Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bonus viral hemorrhagic fever

Although it is the Filoviruses such as Ebola that leap to mind when people hear the phrase 'viral hemorrhagic fever' (VHF) there are actually four different families of viruses that can lead to the classic symptoms of VHF's - capilliary leak leading to high temperature, shock (loss of blood pressure) and death.

This is rather important because whilst the Ebolavirus is really very rare some of the other VHF's are far more common. We'll talk about Yellow Fever in the penultimate week but another disease in the same group is Dengue Fever. Although 50-100 million people are estimated to contract this mosquito borne disease every year only a minority get a severe hemorrhagic fever. Maybe 5%. But 5% of 50-100 million is still several million people per year! In the severe form  Dengue Fever causes a very high fever (over 104) and generalized muscle and joint pain (hence the common name 'breakbone fever').

It is the most common viral disease transmitted by arthropods and it is deemed second in importance to malaria in terms of tropical diseases. The World Health Organization currently counts dengue as one of sixteen neglected tropical diseases and it is found in a wide range of tropical countries across South America, Africa and Asia.

In 2008 I'd been using up some gift cards from amazon.com and had bought several items. Probably some music, but I don't remember what, and some books on disease including one on Yellow Fever. Some time later I got an e-mail highlighting items they thought I might like. I was amused to see they'd combined my viral hemorrhagic fever book with music to come up with the conclusion I'd like music by a band called Dengue Fever. The sort of stupid conclusion only a computer could reach. Except they were right.

In contrast to most bands with disease related names (eg Anthrax, Cholera, Bubonic Plague and Ebola) Dengue Fever are not only not a heavy metal band but play 'Southeast Asian pop, Vietnam-war-era lounge music, klezmer, ska, surf rock, and Ethiopian jazz'. One of the band apparently caught Dengue Fever which is where the band got their name. I suspect Anthrax, Cholera, Bubonic Plague and Ebola can't say that. Dengue Fever (the band) are based in LA and so play in Santa Barbara quite freqeuntly, usually at SoHo - twice last year for some reason. 1000 tears of a tarantula is the first song link I clicked on and is still my favorite song of theirs.

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