Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

When Vegetables Attack!

Avoid the spinach:

Blood & Treasure: these vegetables kill: Oh yes they do...

Once it gets in our bodies, E. col O157:H7 starts causing serious trouble. It builds a needle that it can jab into the cells of our guts. Through it they inject a cocktail of molecules. One of the first of these molecules is a receptor, which inserts itself into the wall of the intestinal cell. In other words, Escherichia coli makes our cells part human, part microbe.

Remember your Cronenberg. From Shivers: "Disease is the love of two alien creatures..." And there's more:

As its genes are manipulated, the cell begins to behave oddly. The skeleton-like fibers that support the cell begin sliding over one another to create a new shape. A pedestal-shaped cup rises from the top of the cell, offering Escherichia coli O157:H7 a place to rest. The cell also begins to leak fluids, which rush past the microbes....

These changes cause blood diarrhea, but they are not the worst of Escherichia coli O157:H7's symptoms. Sometimes a few of the bacteria swell with toxins and burst. Their toxins enter our own cells, where they jam up the cellular factories that build proteins. Unable to make new proteins, the cells die and burst open. These toxins can slip into the blood vessels lining the intestines and soon spread to other organs. The kidneys are especially vulnerable to their attacks.

Apparently you should avoid the spinach.

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