Saturday, May 09, 2009

Cocci study group, Lupus scare

Denise continues to heal and we continue to enjoy her presence. As happens from time to time, we had a little point of concern. In the spring, Denise had some wacky liver labs that showed positive results that were consistent with lupus. More focused testing showed that she has mild case of a thyroid problem called Hashimoto's disease. Between the two, we'll take the Hashimoto's over the lupus.

I attended the 53rd Annual Coccidiodomycosis Study Group in early April. This is an annual gathering of the leading professionals in the study and treatment of valley fever. This year it was held at Cal State University Bakersfield (yup, in a cocci-endemic region). As was the case for the last couple years, my aunt that's an RN went with me to explain the medical jargon, and we got to rub elbows and discuss Denise's case with the big-hitters that were there. We had a mixed bag of good and bad news, but all interesting.
  • The vaccine project is in effect stalled due to funding & politics.
  • Nikkomycin Z, which has cured cocci in mice, is in human trials, but the remaining drug will be used up in the trials. It's very expensive to make and seeing it to market will be a long process if it happens at all.
  • Cocci meningitis patients have a higher risk of stroke and neurological damage than previously thought (or at least what I had previously heard). While not good news, it does make us even more grateful that Denise has been doing so well.
  • The geologist (the one guy I can understand unassisted) related that he can dig in one spot and find cocci in the soil, move over a foot, dig, and find nothing. He also pointed out that west Texas is an endemic region, and there are major population centers just to the east of where the endemic region tapers off. There's a concern that weather patterns may bring cocci to the central Texas cities of San Antonio, Austin, Abilene, etc. in greater numbers in coming years.
  • At the dinner concluding the conference, Dr. Hans Einstein (who's been in cocci research a long time) narrated a slide show about the history of cocci study and the personalities involved. One of the stories: Johnny Bench played at a golf tournament fundraiser hosted by Buck Owens in Bakersfield on a windy day in the early 1970s. He contracted cocci and started exhibiting respiratory distress a few weeks later with the Cincinnati Reds. The doctors out there weren't familiar with Valley Fever, and before the possibility of cocci (and a simple treatment with antifungals) was suggested, he had already undergone a lung biopsy to remove the lesion, which was suspected at the time to be cancer.


Blogger diane and alan said...

I didn't realize the wind driven factor. I'm so glad you have this blog to put this information out there. Diane James

April 26, 2010 10:57 AM  

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