After tensions escalated last week between Germany and Silicon Valley over the type of technology used to trace coronavirus infections, the European nation changed its decision Sunday, choosing to go with “an approach supported by Apple and Google along with a growing number of other European countries,” according to a Reuters report.
Germany is just one of the European Union (E.U.) nations attempting to develop apps to “contact trace” coronavirus patients in an effort to combat the spread of the virus.
Chancellery Minister Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn issued a joint statement Sunday indicating that they would adopt a “decentralized” approach to digital contact tracing, which would no longer allow health authorities to take control over tracing the data that is collected.
“This app should be voluntary, meet data protection standards and guarantee a high level of IT security,” they stated. “The main epidemiological goal is to recognize and break chains of infection as soon as possible.”
Bluetooth-based smartphone contact tracing allows for the determination of the proximity and length of contact between people. Then, if a person tests positive for COVID-19, their recent contacts would be told to call a doctor, get tested, and/or self-isolate.
According to the Reuters report, “Apple and Alphabet’s Google, whose operating systems run 99% of smartphones, have promised tweaks in May that would accommodate the decentralized approach. A trial version is due out next week.”
Meanwhile, an open letter signed by hundreds of scientists that was published last Monday warned that if contact tracing data were to be centralized, it would allow “unprecedented surveillance of society at large.”
Germany is the most populous nation in the E.U. with more than 83 million residents. There are currently 158,758 people infected with the novel coronavirus in Germany and 6,126 people have died.
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Medical Mystery: Parasitic Worm Found in Australian Woman’s Brain Medical Mystery
In a startling medical discovery, a 64-year-old Australian woman’s ongoing “mystery illness” was traced back to a parasitic worm that had taken up residence in her brain.
Neurosurgeon Hari Priya Bandi, who was conducting a biopsy at Canberra Hospital in June 2022, stumbled upon a 3-inch wriggling worm within the patient’s skull. The finding left the medical team shocked and intrigued.
According to reports from the Canberra Times newspaper, based in Canberra, Australia, Bandi recalled her initial reaction, stating, “I just thought: ‘What is that? It doesn’t make any sense. But it’s alive and moving.'” The discovery was followed by a mix of curiosity and unease as the team watched the parasite continue its animated movements. The worm’s vigorous activity inside a human brain was a baffling revelation.
The parasitic intruder was subsequently identified as the larva of an Australian native roundworm known as Ophidascaris robertsi. This species of worm is typically found in carpet pythons. Previous to this case the roundworm was not recognized as a parasite affecting humans.
Bandi and infectious diseases physician Sanjaya Senanayake collaborated on an article detailing this extraordinary case, which was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The patient had endured a year of perplexing symptoms leading up to the worm’s discovery. Prior to the brain biopsy, the woman had been admitted to a local hospital in southeast New South Wales with a range of issues including abdominal pain, diarrhea, a persistent dry cough, and night sweats.
As her condition worsened, she was eventually taken to Canberra Hospital after experiencing three months of memory loss and deepening depression. Scans of her brain prompted doctors to perform the biopsy in hopes of uncovering a cancerous growth or an abscess not a parasitic creepy crawler wiggling around in her head.
The revelation of a live parasite within the patient’s brain left the surgical team perplexed. According to reports from Fox News and The Associated Press, Senanayake expressed their collective amazement, stating, “This patient had been treated … for what was a mystery illness that we thought ultimately was an immunological condition because we hadn’t been able to find a parasite before and then out of nowhere, this big lump appeared in the frontal part of her brain.”
Following the successful removal of the worm, the patient’s neuropsychiatric symptoms showed improvement, although some persisted. The woman’s gratitude for finally understanding the cause of her ailments was evident.
Six months after the removal procedure, her condition continued to improve, although ongoing monitoring remained a priority due to the novel nature of the infection.
Scientists delved into the potential source of the worm’s presence in the woman’s brain and discovered her proximity to a habitat for carpet pythons. Even though she had no direct contact with these snakes, researchers theorized that she might have ingested the worms’ eggs inadvertently from native vegetation.
This remarkable case not only underscores the intricate connections between human health and the environment but also highlights the ongoing mysteries that the medical field continues to unravel.
Follow Alexander Carter on Twitter @AlexCarterDC for more!
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