We are taught that the brain
Is a set of highways;
But there are other roads, as well.
Scenic neural backroads
That are hidden from view;
Dusty and seldom used.
Sometimes we can see them
When the highways are down;
Or a stroke.
Our patient had a brain tumor.
We tested her highways
With a feather drawing;
“What is this?” we asked her.
And the answer she gave
Came by the scenic route;
From a bird.”
(Source: The New York Times)
Who has known the ocean? Neither you nor I, with our earth bound senses, know the foam and surge of the tide that beats over the crab hiding under the seaweed of his tide pool home; or the lilt of the long, slow swells of mid-ocean, where shoals of wandering fish prey and are prayed upon, and the dolphin breaks the waves to breathe the upper atmosphere. Nor can we know the vicissitudes of life on the ocean floor, where the sunlight filtering through a hundred feet of water, makes but a fleeting, bluish twilight, in which dwell sponge and mollusc and starfish and coral, where swarms of diminutive fish twinkle through the dusk like a silver rain of meteors, and eels lie in wait among the rocks. Even less is it given to man to descend those six incomprehensible miles into the recesses of the abyss, where reign utter silence and unvarying cold and eternal night.
To sense this world of waters known to the creatures of the sea we must shed our human perceptions of length and breadth and time and place, and enter vicariously into a universe of all-pervading water.”
Inflammation: blessing or curse?
A question still open, best answered in verse?
Can it foretell pathology, sickness, or worse?
In a human for sure, but in bird, fish, or horse?
Let’s consider one host, are finches* OK?
(Will that bias your choice to read on or stray?)
But among all the pathogens, which will it be?
Bacterial, emerging, could we call it MG**?
It swells finches eyes, makes it harder to see,
Harder to forage, harder to flee
Some finches succumb, others fare well,
But predicting just which, how on earth could we tell?
We brought finches indoors, infected them there,
Swabbed eyes and drew blood, but why should you care?
Well, here comes the answer, the abstract’s near done,
We hope it proves helpful, if only to some:
Using cytokine tests, performed on day one,
We predict who fares worst for weeks yet to come.
Is this only MG, or could there be more
Emerging diseases this might work for?
Could this lead to new markers, predicting who’ll spread,
Or populations to target before they’re all dead?
* house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus)
** Mycoplasma gallisepticum”