Livin' on the MDedge

No fish can escape this net ... of COVID testing


Something about this COVID testing smells fishy

The Chinese have been challenging America’s political and economic hegemony (yes, we did have to look that one up – you’re rude to ask) for some time, but now they’ve gone too far. Are we going to just sit here and let China do something more ridiculous than us in response to COVID? No way!

Alexander Zvir/Pexels

Here’s the deal: The government of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen has decided that it’s not just the workers on returning fishing boats who have the potential to introduce COVID to the rest of the population. The fish also present a problem. So when the authorities say that everyone needs to be tested before they can enter the city, they mean everyone.

An employee of the municipal ocean development bureau told local media that “all people in Xiamen City need nucleic acid testing, and the fish catches must be tested as well,” according to the Guardian, which also said that “TV news reports showed officials swabbing the mouths of fish and the underside of crabs.”

In the words of George Takei: “Oh my.

Hold on there a second, George Takei, because we here in the good old US of A have still got Los Angeles, where COVID testing also has taken a nonhuman turn. The LA County public health department recently announced that pets are now eligible for a free SARS-CoV-2 test through veterinarians and other animal care facilities.

“Our goal is to test many different species of animals including wildlife (deer, bats, raccoons), pets (dogs, cats, hamsters, pocket pets), marine mammals (seals), and more,” Veterinary Public Health announced.

Hegemony restored.

Not even God could save them from worms

The Dark Ages may not have been as dark and violent as many people think, but there’s no denying that life in medieval Europe kind of sucked. The only real alternative to serfdom was a job with the Catholic Church. Medieval friars, for example, lived in stone buildings, had access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and even had latrines and running water. Luxuries compared with the life of the average peasant.

Cambridge Archaeological Unit

So why then, despite having access to more modern sanitation and amenities, did the friars have so many gut parasites? That’s the question raised by a group of researchers from the University of Cambridge, who conducted a study of 19 medieval friars buried at a local friary (Oh, doesn’t your town have one of those?) and 25 local people buried at a nonreligious cemetery during a similar time period. Of those 19 friars, 11 were infected with worms and parasites, compared with just 8 of 25 townspeople.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense. The friars had a good life by old-time standards: They had basic sanitation down and a solid diet. These things should lead to a healthier population. The problem, the researchers found, is two pronged and a vicious cycle. First off, the friars had plenty of fresh food, but they used human feces to fertilize their produce. There’s a reason modern practice for human waste fertilization is to let the waste compost for 6 months: The waiting period allows the parasites a chance to kindly die off, which prevents reinfection.

Secondly, the friars’ diet of fresh fruits and vegetables mixed together into a salad, while appealing to our modern-day sensibilities, was not a great choice. By comparison, laypeople tended to eat a boiled mishmash of whatever they could find, and while that’s kind of gross, the key here is that their food was cooked. And heat kills parasites. The uncooked salads did no such thing, so the monks ate infected food, expelled infected poop, and grew more infected food with their infected poop.

Once the worms arrived, they never left, making them the worst kind of house guest. Read the room, worms, take your dinner and move on. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.


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