Are you on Facebook? Are you wondering how this could possibly be relevant to PodMed, a medical podcast? Turns out that by using Facebook, investigators report in the New England Journal of Medicine that they were able to identify the most likely source of an outbreak of tuberculosis. How cool is that?
Here's what happened: an outbreak of tuberculosis was reported in a medium-sized community in British Columbia, Canada. While the cases of TB here are higher than the national average, it's not exactly a tuberculosis hotspot worldwide. Seems like it would have been cookbook to identify the source of the outbreak. But no. Using traditional methods to analyze both the bug and contacts of cases, public health sleuths turned up empty-handed.
Enter two new strategies: a whole genome analysis technique, and use of Facebook to discern relationships that had not been previously identified. When these are integrated with each other, they look like this:
Who knew those techno kids would develop a tool that would be so useful to the established medical cognoscenti? As Rick discusses in the podcast, he heard predictions of the utility of Facebook some time ago and disparaged it as a fantasy. Now what a debut- NEJM! Seems likely we'll be seeing more of this.
Other topics this week include the stress of making medical decisions for others in Annals of Internal Medicine, a lack of association between obesity and death in some Asians, and oral steroids for nasal polyps in Annals as well. Until next week, y'all live well.
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