Ellen Woodworth's Biology Wiki Page!

Post #1: Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder which is mainly characterized by cataplexy, the loss of skeletal muscle tone without losing consciousness. Cataplectic attacks can occur from laughter, interactions with strangers, embarrassment, sudden anger, physical exertion or even sexual intercourse. A difficult symptom that a narcoleptic person deals with is their chronic sleepiness and because of this, they may spontaneously fall asleep at inappropriate times. Two other symptoms that they deal with include hypnagogic hallucinations, which are dream-like experiences while waking up and sleep paralysis, which is the inability to move when waking or falling asleep.
Scientists have also came across the first evidence of neuronal degeneration in narcolepsy and others have isolated a gene that when mutated can cause dogs to be narcoleptic. Some scientists have proposed narcolepsy may come from when unknown agents in the environment cause an autoimmune reaction, which can damage neurons in the brain circuit that control your muscle tone. This means that narcoleptics lack proper levels of the wakefulness hormone called hypocretin; they later found that this is because that they are missing the cells in the brain which produce said hormone. In finding this, they are hoping to be able to better treat this heartbreaking disease.

Siegel, J. M. . (2000). Narcolepsy. Scientific American, Retrieved from http://www.sciamdigital.com/index.cfm?fa=Products.ViewIssuePreview&ARTICLEID_CHAR=8466453E-4797-4C27-B33C-7786AC9B8B1

Post #2: Apoptosis

Not only is it essential for multicellular organisms to produce new cells but for our survival, cells must also self destruct by a process called apoptosis. Apoptosis is used to get rid of unnecessary, old cells.Recent discoveries have explained this phenomenon and how it is controlled. Also, it is thought that irregular apoptosis possibly contributes to the deadly diseases such as AIDS, Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.

There are two ways that cells die: 1) they are killed by injury and 2) is that they are induced to commit suicide. Reasons why they may commit suicide is to either to continue to develop the multicellular organism or to possibly rid the cell of viruses or toxins that would harm the organism.

Examples of apoptosis is when tadpoles eliminate all of their tail cells when becoming an adult also, human embryos are thought to use apoptosis to get rid of the skin cells between their fingers (causes the webbed look).

Many would think that cell suicide is bad but, in all actuality, it is crucial to our survival!

Duke, R. C., Ojcius, D. M., & Young, J. D. (1996). Cell suicide in health and disease. Scientific American, Retrieved from http://www.sciamdigital.com/index.cfm?fa=Products.ViewIssuePreview&ARTICLEID_CHAR=85741894-E29B-42EC-AB60-DFB272BCA80

Post #3: Cryptococcal Meningitis

This rare fungal disease caught my attention from an article in the The Daily Gleaner which talked about a local 23 year old who contracted it. Cryptococcal Meningitis is a fungal infection of the membranes attacking the spinal cord and brain causing swelling. Surprisingly, this horrible disease usually comes from pigeon feces or soil! It also usually attacks people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of this disease includes headaches, fevers, hallucinations, mental status changes, sunlight sensitivity and nausea. However, there is treatment from this fatal disease; intravenous therapy with amphotericin B is the most common followed by an oral medication called fluconazole.

The case from Fredericton, Erica Richards is unsure of how she contracted it, but doctors are thinking from pigeon feces. Now, because of this devastating disease, Richards is left blind. She did however survive and wants everyone to be aware of this disease and to stay away from pigeons!

"It (the disease) is horrible. The pain that you get from this disease is crippling. The after-effects are with you for life and you just can't stop thinking about it. I just want other people to know and try to stay away from pigeons."
-Erica Richards


Dugdale, D. C. (2010, September 15). Meningitis- cryptococcal. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001665/

Post #4: The Kiwi Bird

This kiwi bird is extremely unique. It is a flightless, nocturnal bird that is also very violent and temperamental. They are not very big for being so violent, only 50cm! They use their long legs and claws to scratch and kick their predators. The kiwi birds are also very fast which helps them flee from some of these predators. One of their amazing facts is that they are estimated to be around 8 million years old! That is 7 million years older than humans. The kiwi bird's eggs are actually the largest in the bird world, in proportion to their body.There are five different types of kiwi birds: brown, little spotted, great spotted, rowi and tokoeka. Kiwi birds are an incredible mammal and are an intriguing species to study. With all their quirks, adaptations and characteristics, the kiwi bird is set apart from the crowd.
Forest & Bird (2009). Kiwi conservation club. Retrieved from http://www.kcc.org.nz/kiwi

Post #5: African Lip Plates

Some African women for years have been known as a biological wonder. These women have become accustomed to stretching their lips to great sizes and is viewed in their society as beauty. Our skin is naturally able to stretch, but the African women take it to a whole new level. At an extremely young age, they take out all lower teeth and then stretch their lower lip until it can fit a clay plate. Gradually, they continue to stretch it out and the larger the plate, the worth of the woman increases for when she gets married meaning her family will receive more cattle. The question is, is this barbaric tradition? No, it is a cultural tradition just like you and I have our own traditions like a white dress on your wedding day.

BBC Worldwide (2007). Lip plates of Suri women (Web). Available from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mz1vaTeUSY
Kofi (2008, June). Lip plates in Africa (Web log message). Retrieved from http://cozay.com/forum/f17/lip-plates-in-africa-women-stretching-their-lower-t372/

Post #6: Diseases Caused by Haiti Earthquake

This past December, I was supposed to go to Haiti but our team was unable to leave due to danger and disease. I plan on going this coming December so I decided to do some research on the possible fatal diseases beforehand! Not only was Haiti poor and impoverished before the earthquake, but afterwards, it was thrown into utter chaos. Because of floods, lack of shelter and lack of hygiene, Haiti became completely exposed to new diseases and viruses from the perfect environment created.

Malaria, Aids, tuberculosis, tetanus, meningitis and other infections were now rampant on the streets of Haiti. Sadly, because lack of hospital space, hundred of Haitians died solely from said diseases and infections. Due to all the rain that came after the earthquake, and inadequate shelters, mosquitos carrying malaria were drawn to the people. Also, malnutrition hit Haiti hard. Once all the food run out, people began to starve and once food came, there were riots to get what they needed, killing more innocent lives.

The already crumbling country is now shattered, the poverty is now doubled and the already hopeless people are now devastated. But, by reaching this all time low, we can only go up from here! Let us rebuild Haiti, together.
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Tran, Mark. (2010). Haiti earthquake survivors face growing disease threat. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/19/haiti-earthquake-survivors-disease-threat

Post #7: Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF)

Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is an extremely rare but fatal disease in which you may bleed from mouth, skin and nose. This disease is most commonly transmitted from pet to owner from the pets fleas or ticks but once a human contracts this horrible virus, it may then be transmitted from saliva to saliva. Once it enters the blood stream, it reproduces very quickly and you will see symptoms from 1 to 4 days after. This virus holds a 30% death rate after the second week! It is an RNA virus which permits it to mutate and change making it very difficult to find a cure.

Recently, in India, this rare, deadly virus killed three people! The health minister of the state concluded that there is no need to panic, but this disease is a deadly one and holds the potential to cause utter chaos! Sadly, once one is infected, there is little or no treatment for said patient.
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Wikipedia. (2011, March 11). Crimean congo fever. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimean–Congo_hemorrhagic_fever
Vyas, S. (2011). Rare deadly virus kills three in Gujarat. Retrieved from http://www.allindianewssite.com/8842/rare-deadly-virus-kills-three-in-gujarat

Post #8: Will Coral Reefs Disappear?

Many of the coral reefs around the world are suffering and are being killed of because of coral bleaching. Corals get most of their energy from the algae that lives in their tissue (which causing the beautiful, bright pigmentation) but when environmental factors change, such as water temperature, the coral actually breaks down all the algae, resulting in turning the coral white. Eventually, since the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae is broken, the coral is unable to obtain energy and food causing the beautiful coral to die. 30 years ago, coral bleaching was extremely rare, but now, it is commonality in almost every part of the world where corals are found.

Coral bleaching does not only cause harm to these reefs, but also to the surrounding environment; the millions of people living in the tropics depend on these coral reefs for tourism and animals that live in coral or feed off it will die. Scientists aren't predicting that they will completely do extinct, but if continued changes of coral environment may lead to only coral being found in shaded areas.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (2010, February 23). Will coral reefs disappear?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 19, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100221200908.htm.

Post #9: The Crystal Jelly

The crystal jelly is part of the Cnidarians and looks similar to a jellyfish: graceful, nearly transparent and long delicate tentacles. This amazing creature of the sea also has an incredible glowing ability. In 1961, a researcher by the name of Osamu Shimomura extracting the glowing molecule from over 10,000 specimens which led him to find the protein that glows, green fluorescent protein (GFP). Because of this protein he found, colleagues of his realized that it can be attached to other proteins, causing them to glow. This permits the decrypting of previously invisible processes such as the spread of cancer or development of nerve cells. This earned Shimomura the Nobel prize in 2008.

Post #10: Streptococcal pharyngitis

Streptococcal pharyngitis, otherwise known as strep throat is a common sickness sickness in my life. I decided to do my wikipost on this because I have had many times! Usually at least once or twice a year. This infection happens in pharynx and also infects tonsils and lymph nodes. Symptoms of this infection are: sore throat, swelling of lymph nodes and fever. Surprisingly, strep throat is the cause of 37% of sore throats in children. It is a contagious infection, but can be treated with an antibiotic! To figure out if you have strep throat, a swab is taken of it and the doctors are able to tell if you have it from the cell culture received. I also read that a tonsillectomy will reduce substantially the chances of getting strep throat, now knowing that, I may keep that as an option!


Post #11: Edible Bugs

I thought this would be a really interesting wikipost to do just in case you are ever caught in a forest or the wilderness all alone! I find it cool how some animals and plants can be extremely toxic, but others, perfect for us to eat! For those of you who may be scared of spiders, listen to this: in Cambodia, cooked tarantulas are considered o be a delicacy! The stink bug, located in East Africa, if you are able to get past the stench, are quite tasty! They use the stink as a defense mechanism, but it does not factor into the taste at all! Many worm-like creatures are also edible such as caterpillars, larva or grubs. They seem to be popular because they are found throughout the world and available most anywhere! These animals can be eaten raw, cooked, baked or even dried and saved for a later date! For our North American way of thinking, we may believe that these all sound like fear factor foods, but in all reality they are real food that people m
ay eat everyday.