Know your plants: Japanese pref. warns of toxic lily resembling edible taro after poisoning cases reported

The Kumamoto Prefectural Government is warning people to be on their guard following cases of food poisoning caused by people mistaking toxic night-scented lilies for edible taro plants (that’s the two plants, right).

A woman in southwestern Japan suffered symptoms of food poisoning, including acute pain in her mouth, after mistakenly eating night-scented lily, the prefectural government announced on Nov. 26.

There have been repeated cases across Japan where people accidentally consume the plants, as the leaves resemble those of edible taros. Officials are calling on people to “avoid eating taros of an unknown type.”

According to the prefecture, the 43-year-old woman and her family, who live in an area under the jurisdiction of the Mifune public health center in Kumamoto Prefecture, consumed a wild night-scented lily plant that had been growing at the side of an agricultural road near their residence, after mistaking it for edible shrimp-shaped taro. The woman felt a sharp pain in her mouth, as well as numbness in her lips and tongue, shortly after tasting the plant, which she used as an ingredient for miso soup, and was taken to hospital in an ambulance. Although the woman has been recovering, her symptoms apparently still remain. The woman said she had no experience cooking shrimp-shaped taro, and felt itchiness in her hand from the time she started cutting the plant.

In a separate case, eight people suffered food poisoning after eating night-scented lilies that were mistakenly sold at a produce stand in Miyazaki Prefecture in October. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has cautioned people to “avoid picking, eating, selling, or giving to others plants that cannot be ascertained as being edible.”

Does farting burn calories?

Claire Gillespie of Health asks the (literally) burning question: Does farting burn calories?

The average person farts up to 23 times a day, according to the Cleveland Clinic, so it’s really unavoidable.

On the Internet, entire reddit threads are devoted to the issue, and one even shares that “one fart burns approximately 67 calories,” according to a Google screenshot. “Farting, also known as flatulence, happens when you have excess gas in the stomach and/or intestines,” Tanya B. Freirich, MS, RD, New York-based nutritionist and registered dietitian for Sweet Nova, tells Health. “Expelling that gas through your anus creates a fart.”

Excess gas could be due to many different factors, such as malabsorption of food, increased fiber intake or swallowing a lot of air while eating.

“A common example of malabsorption of food is lactose intolerance,” Freirich explains. “Without the correct enzymes, the body doesn’t digest dairy sugar (lactose) properly, and produces excess gas as those sugars are fermented in the digestive tract.”

Cruciferous vegetables like sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are also well-known for causing more gas production. Other foods that often cause a stink are beans and dried fruits.

Farting does not burn any measurable calories. “While calorie burn would be the silver lining on this stinky cloud, farting doesn’t burn calories,” Freirich says. This is because calorie burn is caused by muscle activation, and farting happens when muscles (in the anus) relax, she adds. Even when you bear down to push some gas out, no calorie are burned.

And let us all never forget the time Dianne Feinstein had to pretend she didn’t hear Trump fart pic.twitter.com/9LrDtulu2Q

Stray cat blues and zoonoses

Although trained in molecular biology, genetics and food science, I always had a desire to additionally express my creativity as a writer. In 1986I put aside my fears and made my way to the second floor of the university centre, home to all things student, including the University of Guelph student newspaper, The Ontarion.

I approached the editor-in-chief, who had issued a call for additional writers, and boldly – it seemed bold at the time – said. I want to write.

But rather than do record reviews or movie reviews, which everyone wanted to write, I said I want to write about science. I was a MSc student at the time.

After a few published pieces, I was awarded a weekly science column. The next year, through a series of weird events, I became editor-in-chief and lost interest in grad school (or was it the other way around?).

For a newbie journo, it was a struggle to come up with a weekly column while running my experiments to understand the basis of disease resistance –Verticillium wilt – in tomatoes.

My cats led the way.

My first warm-blooded pets – whom I named Clark and Kent — had been provided by my veterinary student girlfriend. I became fascinated with cat behavior, and thought the 25,000 potential readers would share my cat voyeurism.

Some did, enough to secure my weekly column and write about other sciencey things.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, (B. Breedlove) and the British Library, London, UK (J. Igunma) write in the Dec. 2020 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases that Felis catus, the only domesticated species of cat in the family Felidae, flourishes on every continent except Antarctica. Able to thrive in almost any climate and habitat, it is among the world’s most invasive species. Current estimates of the global cat population, including pet, stray, and feral cats, range from 200 million to 600 million. Where there are humans, more than likely there are also cats.

Humans living in agricultural villages in northern Africa and the Near East are believed to have domesticated the African wildcat (Felis lybica) between 8,000 to 12,000 years ago. Archaeologist Magdalena Krajcarz and colleagues noted, “The cat’s way to domestication is a complex and still unresolved topic with many questions concerning the chronology of its dispersal with agricultural societies and the nature of its evolving relationship with humans.” Likely stored grains and trash piles in villages attracted rodent pests, which in turn lured local wildcats and initiated a nascent mutualistic relationship that has since flourished.

From those villages, cats found their way around the world. Authors Lee Harper and Joyce L. White wrote that ancient sailors “were quick to see the advantage of having cats aboard ship during long voyages to protect their food supplies from damage by rodents.” Trade and commerce helped spread cats from the Middle East to various ports of call in Europe, the Far East and Orient, and the Americas. Throughout this common history, cats have been both reviled and revered by humans.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, some religious institutions considered cats evil, leading to thousands being killed. Later, however, the Black Death spread by fleas on rats contributed to cats’ redemption. Harper and White noted, “The cat’s skill as a hunter of vermin was desperately needed. Its reputation was salvaged. Owning a cat was back in style.”

Ancient Egyptians ascribed to cats many characteristics shared with deities they worshipped. Freyja, Norse goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, rode on a cat-drawn chariot. Temples in medieval Japan often kept a pair of cats to protect precious manuscripts from being ruined by mice. In the Kingdom of Siam, which is modern-day Thailand, Buddhist monks welcomed cats into their temples, where they were protected as Maeo Wat (Temple Cats).

This month’s cover art, “two lucky cats to support leadership,” is the second folio from A Thai Treatise on Cats, created in the 19th century in central Thailand and acquired by the British Library in 2011. Such manuscripts about cats were made for breeders in Thailand at least from the 18th century on, although it is believed that cat breeding goes back to the beginnings of the ancient Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya in the 14th century.

The positive side of cat ownership, as celebrated in those cat treatises, is acknowledged on the CDC website, “Research has shown that cats can provide emotional support, improve moods, and contribute to the overall morale of their owners. Cats are also credited with promoting socialization among older individuals and physically or mentally disabled people.” Cats, as noted earlier, have also historically helped control the spread of rodent-borne diseases among humans.

Nonetheless, living in close quarters with cats carries some health risks. Cats can transfer various zoonotic diseases, including Campylobacter infection, cat–scratch disease, cryptosporidiosis, hookworm infection, plague, rabies, and salmonellosis. Cats are the only animal in which the Toxoplasma gondii parasite completes its life cycle, and humans in close contact with cat litter, for example, are at risk of developing toxoplasmosis, which pregnant women can potentially transmit to a fetus. Much less common is transfer of disease from humans to animals, such as the suspected case of human-to-cat transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 reported in this issue. (Both owner and cat recovered.)

Detecting, responding to, and preparing for emerging zoonotic infections―which, like cats, have made their way around the world with our help―are major challenges for public health leaders. Even if cats are not actual talismans or have the power to improve leadership, spending a few minutes considering these lucky cats may provide public health officials a brief respite or serendipitous insight.

In consideration of our mutual relationship with cats

Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 26 no. 12

Byron Breedlove and Jana Igunma

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/12/ac-2612_article?ACSTrackingID=USCDC_331-DM42995&ACSTrackingLabel=Emerging%20Infectious%20Diseases%20Journal%20-%20Volume%2026%2C%20Issue%2012%20-%20December%202020%20Issue%20Now%20Online&deliveryName=USCDC_331-DM42995

Texas shoplifter caught thanks to ‘I pooped today’ t-shirt he wore to go stealing

Jimmy McCloskey of Metro UK reported in July a shoplifter was caught thanks to a distinctive t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase ‘I pooped today’ he wore on his stealing expeditions.

We had fun with our Don’t Eat Poop T-shirts after the 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in spinach and sales, which went to support our food safety news gathering and distribution activities, went on for years. Extremely popular with public health inspectors.

John Hunt admitted shoplifting from a Walmart in Wichita Falls, Texas, after police posted surveillance grabs of him stealing, with the vulgar t-shirt prompting one cop to recognize Hunt.

Hunt wore the memorable shirt and chatted to store workers while his alleged accomplice Kevin LaPointe began to steal. Afterwards, staff flagged up the distinctive item of clothing to police, with one cop immediately recognizing it on seeing images from another shop that Hunt had targeted.

Hunt was jailed for nine months Friday for stealing twice from a Walmart store – with his booty including two home security systems worth $600 – as well as theft of electricity from a meter. His guilty plea saw two further shoplifting charges against him dismissed. He has a lengthy list of previous arrests spanning back to 2014 for charges including assault, theft and driving without a seat belt.

Empedocles the Empiricist: 6-legged calf survives in Australia

There was this one time, my first wife, the veterinarian, was working as a student in an anatomy lab at the vet college. She gave me a call one evening and said, get here quick, you have to see this.

Off i went and unknowingly strolled into the receiving area at the vet college and there was a newborn Holstein with two heads, and it was alive.

It later died.

A few years later I started a MSc in Philosophy of science. We were talking about Empedocles, and his descriptions of various mutant animals, and I told the class about the two-headed cow.

I argued it was biology and was reporting what he observed, and Iabeled him Empedocles the Empiricist.

The rest of the class snickered and went on with their elaborate, probably drug-induced crazy metaphor-based analysis.

I finished the class but dropped out. Talking shit all day and night is sorta boring.

Channel 7 Toowomba reports a three-week old calf has left some Queensland (that’s the state in Australia where we live) cattle farmers dumbfounded. It was born with not four but six legs, and today it defied the odds and survived surgery to remove the extra limbs.

Licorce man: Massachusetts construction worker dies after eating black licorice every day for a ‘few weeks’

I never liked black licorice.

Red, sure, but not black.

Tim McGovern of People reported in September a Massachusetts construction worker’s love of candy cost him his life.

The 54-year-old, who has not been named, died in a fast-food restaurant while having lunch after consuming a bag and half of black licorice for a few weeks, a study by The New England Journal of Medicine.

“He had a poor diet, consisting primarily of several packages of candy daily,” the study claimed, before noting that three “weeks earlier, he had switched the type of candy he was eating” to black licorice, the study found according to the Associated Press.

The study also said that licorice’s glycyrrhizic acid (usually found in the candy’s extract) can cause the “unimpeded presence of cortisol,” which in turn “can cause hypertension, hypokalemia, metabolic alkalosis, fatal arrhythmias, and renal failure — the constellation of signs and symptoms seen in this patient.”

The Journal’s findings listed the following as the diagnosis of Dr. Elazer R. Edelman, a doctor cited in the study: “Metabolic, renal, vascular, and cardiac toxic effects from apparent mineralocorticoid excess due to licorice consumption.”

The man, who suffered experienced “full-body shaking and loss of consciousness” before his death, also smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 36 years and had a medical history that “included previous heroin use disorder and untreated hepatitis C virus infection.”

In 2018, a 73-year-old New Yorker filed a lawsuit against the Hershey Company, alleging that their Twizzlers black licorice candy contributed to his heart condition.

The New York Post first reported that David Goldberg, a Manhattan resident, has been “consuming at least one standard size bag per week” for “years,” according to Manhattan Supreme Court documents.

The lawsuit claimed that Goldberg is a “healthy individual who is not obese” and “has never had any heart conditions,” according to the Post, but had recently been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat.)

In February, the case was settled after it had been sent to arbitration in October 2019, according to Law 360.

In 2017, the FDA issued a warning against glycyrrhizin, a sweetening compound that is found in black licorice. The federal agency claims this ingredient can lower potassium levels which can lead to heart problems, and warns adults over 40 that “eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.”

 

Dunkin’ Donuts worker arrested after Illinois officer finds ‘mucus’ in coffee

A Dunkin’ Donuts worker has been arrested after an Illinois State Police officer discovered a “large, thick piece of mucus which was later confirmed to be saliva” in his coffee, authorities said.

The incident took place at 10:20 p.m. on July 30 when an Illinois State Police (ISP) District Chicago trooper purchased a large black coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts on Archer Avenue in Chicago, ABC News reported.

“Due to the coffee being extremely hot, the Trooper removed the lid from the top of the cup to cool it down,” the Illinois State Police said in a statement.

It was at that moment when the officer discovered the saliva floating in his cup.

The ISP immediately opened an investigation into the incident, which concluded with the arrest of Vincent J. Sessler, a 25-year-old Dunkin’ Donuts employee.

When ya gotta go: Woman goes to toilet on California beach during CNN reporter’s live broadcastd

A woman was filmed using a beach for a bathroom in broad daylight while a CNN reporter broadcast just feet away from her. The unidentified woman relieved herself on Santa Monica beach in Los Angeles on Monday afternoon as journalist Sarah Seigner discussed the ongoing coronavirus crisis with her colleagues in New York City.

The woman, who appeared to be homeless, wandered into the camera shot as Seigner told her colleagues how the area had broken a one-day Covid-19 diagnosis record on Friday, with more than 3,000 cases confirmed. The video-bomber could be seen dumping a black trash bag on the sand, before pulling down her pants as she prepared to go to the bathroom. Seigner appeared to have been warned over her ear-piece about what was going on behind her, and shuffled slightly to the right to block the woman from view and spare viewers’ blushes. Her colleague in New York managed to keep a straight face throughout. Seigner spoke as California saw a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, with the Golden State experiencing a 41% rise in Covid-19 hospitals since mid-June.

California broke its single-day coronavirus diagnosis on July 5, with 11,529 new cases confirmed. Daily death figures have been hovering around 100, and have yet to beat the all-time high of 115 Covid-19 deaths recorded towards the start of the outbreak on April 22. The worrying numbers have prompted multiple California counties to pass or begin reversing reopening measures.

Man fined $560 for farting loudly at police in Austria

A person in Vienna was fined 500 Euro ($560) for farting loudly in front of police officers. If the fine isn’t paid, the man could face five days in jail.

The title of the Reddit post stated: “It’s a miracle that the policeman didn’t grab the poufs right away! We must not be ‘suppressed’: let the intestinal wind escape for everyone!”

The fine said that in the incident in Bennoplatz, Vienna, the person violated a regulation by violating public decency or for an unduly disturbing noise. More specifically, according to the fine, “they violated public decency by loudly blowing a bowel in front of police officers.”

In October 2019, Missouri police revealed that they located a suspect after he farted loudly. The Clay County Missouri Sherriff’s Office said on social media: “If you’ve got a felony warrant for your arrest, the cops are looking for you and you pass gas so loud it gives up your hiding spot, you’re definitely having a [poop emoji] day.”

In September 2019, a man in Scotland intentionally farted as police officers conducted a body cavity search and was ordered to perform 75 hours of community service.