Monday, October 18, 2010

Fortean / Oddball News: Common Cold Cure, Virginia Monster Catfish and...Zombie?

'Silver Bullet?' - The Common Cold Could Become a Thing of the Past

A ‘silver bullet’ against the common cold and other illnesses is being developed by scientists.

Tests show that arming bacteria with minute studs of silver endows them with the ability to combat viruses.

Norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, is unable to cause infections after coming into contact with the silver-impregnated bacteria.

Researchers believe the same technique could be used to ward off other viruses, including those which cause flu and the common cold.

Belgian professor Willy Verstraete discovered a way of ‘studding’ harmless bacteria often found in probiotic yoghurts with nanoparticles of silver, each thinner than a human hair.

Sprayed up the nose or rubbed into the hands, the silver-studded bacteria stop any viruses that cross their path from infecting cells.

As viruses need to hijack a cell’s internal machinery to live and breed, barring them entry leads to their death.

The common cold wreaks havoc among all age groups but the huge number of different viruses behind the symptoms means that a cure has, so far, eluded scientists.


Virginia Tidal Rivers: Blue Catfish a Boon or Threat?

Taswwar Ali grinned broadly at the camera, with the monster in his arms.

The monster was something only a fisherman could love: a 68-pound blue catfish that Ali had hooked late one August night in the Rappahannock River.

Ali, a 24-year-old international student who lives in Fredericksburg, was still bursting with pride the next morning when he e-mailed the picture to The Free Lance-Star. He wrote:

"Didn't know that the previous record for this particular river was 66 pounds. I just caught it and then dropped it into the river again after taking pictures.

"It takes almost 30 to 40 years [for] a fish to get that much big."

Two weeks later, Stanley Oliff, a 73-year-old commercial fisherman in Richmond County, set out at dawn with five other men in three boats to fish two pound nets in the Rappahannock near Carter's Wharf, 35 miles downriver from Fredericksburg. Two hours later, hundreds of blue catfish totaling more than a ton were in the boats.

In one boat, James H. Sanders, 73, of Warsaw stood in the slimy pile of fish next to the culling board. He sang: "How high the catfish, mama? Up to your knees and rising!"

Forty years ago, blue catfish like Ali's midnight monster and the haul in Oliff's boat did not exist in Virginia's tidal rivers.

The state fishery biologists who transplanted the species in the 1970s from the Mississippi to the Rappahannock and James rivers could hardly have imagined the eventual results of their work.

By 2009, a 102-pound blue cat had been caught in the James, a multimillion-dollar trophy fishery had been created, commercial fishermen were netting more than 1.5 million pounds a year in the Rappahannock, Potomac and other tidal rivers, and concerns were mounting that the explosive growth of blue-catfish populations threatened native fish.

"I don't think the biologists realized that the blue catfish were going to thrive like they did," Wayne Fisher said recently beside the Rappahannock at Leedstown in Westmoreland County. Read more at Virginia Tidal Rivers: Blue Catfish a Boon or Threat?



hometownannapolis - An employee of the State Anatomy Board got a shock when he went to transport the body of an elderly Severna Park woman whom county police found "dead" inside her bathroom.

The woman, who lay on the floor for three hours on Oct. 1 while officers notified her family, physician and medical examiner of her death, was in fact alive.

Officer Christopher Brown and Sgt. Randy Bell went to the home of Ruth Shillinglaw Johnson, 89, in the Colchester on the Severn neighborhood at 4:07 p.m. to check on her well-being.

"We hadn't seen her for four or five days," said Stacie Zarriello, who lives across the street. "She wasn't answering the door or the phone. We checked her mailbox and it was full. The newspapers were piling up."

The officers found an unlocked side door to Johnson's home and went inside.

They searched the first floor, but found nothing. Brown began checking the upstairs bedrooms when he noticed an odor "similar to a decomposition smell," according to the police report.

The officers walked through the master bedroom and opened a bathroom door. There, they found Johnson motionless on the bathroom floor. Her skin was blue and she was not breathing, the report says. The officers' experience led them to believe Johnson had been dead for a couple of days.

Thinking Johnson was clearly deceased, the officers did not check for a pulse.

They labeled the call an "unattended death" and contacted Johnson's adult son, who lives in Utah. He told police his mother suffered from medical problems.

Brown and Bell then called Johnson's primary care physician, who verified Johnson suffered from illnesses, the nature of which police did not disclose. The physician told police she would sign off on Johnson's death certificate.

The officers then spoke with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore. Given the information, the medical examiner decided not to respond to Johnson's home.

Police learned from Johnson's son that his mother had made arrangements with the State Anatomy Board to donate her body for science, the report says.

The board was contacted and said they'd have a transport team come to the home.
A shock

Charles Morgan, an employee of the anatomy board, arrived at Johnson's home around 7:10 p.m. - three hours after Johnson was found, seemingly lifeless, on her bathroom floor.

He went upstairs and entered the bathroom. He was preparing to take Johnson's body away when he heard her take a deep breath and saw her move her arm.

Morgan ran out of the bedroom and yelled for the officers.

Brown rushed to the bathroom and saw Johnson take another deep breath and move her arm a second time.

"I shouted, 'Ruth!' and she responded with 'Arrgghh,' " Brown wrote in the report.

Brown asked Johnson how long she'd been lying on the floor. Johnson told him she wasn't on the floor. He asked her where she was and she responded, "... on the sofa."

Paramedics were immediately called to the home. Johnson was taken in critical condition to Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie, said Division Chief Michael Cox, a county Fire Department spokesman.

She was conscious and breathing on the way, police said. It is unknown what caused Johnson to collapse or how long she had been on the bathroom floor.

Hospital officials said Johnson was discharged on Wednesday. Neighbors said she has been moved to a hospice.

Medical privacy laws kept local hospices from confirming or denying that Johnson is a patient, preventing The Capital from locating Johnson for comment.

Zarriello said the incident was the talk of the Colchester on the Severn community. She and other neighbors had stood outside Johnson's home on Oct. 1 when police first arrived to check on her.

"He went in and came out and said she was deceased," she said.

Though sad about the news, Zarriello took her daughter to play in a field hockey game. After the game, the Zarriello family sat down for dinner. They were eating when they saw the State Anatomy Board van pull in front of Johnson's home.

She said an anatomy board employee came outside and told neighbors Johnson was alive.

Neighbors were shocked.

"He (the board employee) said he'd never seen anything like this before," Zarriello said.

The police report indicates that the two officers who responded to Johnson's home did not check for a pulse when they found her.

By all accounts, Johnson appeared deceased, the report says. The Capital is not disclosing all of the details that led police to make this determination.

The officers, Bell and Brown, have been with the department since 1989 and 2004, respectively.

Lt. Frank Tewey, a police spokesman, said the department is aware of the incident.

"It is currently under administrative review to ensure that proper procedures were followed," he said.


Iranian Chocolate Thief Faces Hand Amputation

BBC - An Iranian judge has sentenced a man convicted of robbing a confectionery shop to have one of his hands cut off, Iranian media report.

The judge also sentenced the man to one year in prison.

Police arrested the man in May after finding $900 (£560), three pairs of gloves and a large amount of chocolate in his car, Fars news agency said.

Under Iran's Islamic law, amputations are usually reserved for habitual thieves.

Last week, authorities cut off the hand of a man convicted of two robberies in the north-eastern city of Mashhad.


Robert De Niro 'to play psychic in Red Lights'

Academy Award winner Robert De Niro is said to have signed on to play a psychic in a new movie.

De Niro, 67, will join Sigourney Weaver for psychological thriller Red Lights, directed by Buried filmmaker Rodrigo Cortes, reports the Daily Express.

Weaver will portray the character of a physiologist whose study of the paranormal leads them to investigate De Niro's character.

Daily Variety reports that the film is set to begin shooting in February with locations planned for the US, Canada and Cortes' native Spain.

'The Gates' stars confirm series axe

The Gates
star Frank Grillo has confirmed that the paranormal drama will not return for a second season.

The actor previously suggested via his Twitter account that a renewal was unlikely.

Grillo later confirmed the cancellation in another post, writing: "Don't shoot the messenger. The Gates is officially cancelled. I knew my source was right."

He added: "Thanks to all of you for supporting us. It made the whole thing worth it."

His co-star Colton Haynes also commented on ABC's decision: "The Gates is officially cancelled. Was a great/fun experience and thk u all for coming along for the ride! (sic)"

The final episode of The Gates aired on September 19 on ABC.

NOTE: Damn! I enjoyed the show...I guess vampires, werewolves, witches and succubus are not ready for mainstream network television...Lon
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