[Ed: Gothamist is happy to introduce Jay Parkinson, in his first weekly post about NYC health issues. He practices Pediatrics in a large hospital in downtown Manhattan and is pursuing a career in Public Health making sure that all the children of the world get their shots. Plus, he has a photoblog.]
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a warning yesterday saying two New Yorkers have been diagnosed with a rare form of Chlamydia called Lymphogranuloma Venereum. LGV causes genital ulcers and painful draining lymph nodes in the groin area. The sexually transmitted disease disproportionately affects men, especially those who engage in unprotected anal intercourse and other high-risk behaviors. There have been four other cases described recently here in the US -- three in San Francisco and one in Atlanta.
Although six cases of a certain disease in the entire United States sound like a whole bunch of nothing, the fact that some communicable diseases even appear at all is worrisome to the medical community. For instance, 14 people in Vietnam have been stricken with bird flu in the past five weeks. Thirteen of them have died. And now Vietnam is asking for help in solving this problem. Why is Gothamist Health worried about this? Well, first of all for the obvious reason. Gothamist Health is not a bettin' man but 13 out of 14 ain't so good odds. The real reason is bird flu never infected humans until 1997. Most infections have been in Asia and presently in Vietnam and Cambodia. But one case happened not too far away from us in Virginia in 2002. Luckily, all of the cases of bird flu we have seen have not been effectively transmitted person-to-person. Unfortunately, there is a possibility that the bird flu virus could mutate and be easily transmitted from human-to-human. If that were to happen, we could see a repeat of the Flu Pandemic of 1918. So far, the vast majority of infections have been people in close contact with chickens and their feces.
So please stay away from ill-appearing chickens and quit your job working for PETA at the Tyson plant. And please, please wear a condom. You don't want to be the third New Yorker with genital ulcers making international news.