June 13, 2005

Flesh-Eating Disease: yet another worry

Always looking for a laugh from the AP wire service at Newsday.com, I stumbled upon this unpleasant headline: Deal Reached in Flesh-Eating Disease Case. As a subscriber to the CDC's MMWR for over 20 years, I have a demonstrated interest in disease current events. I figured this would be a story about an American who contracted an exotic flesh-eating disease in some jungle and, as is the way with Americans, decided to sue everyone in sight. But no, this cat caught a fatal dose of flesh eating disease in North Carolina! Well, maybe he got it from some strange animal at a zoo, or from eating something imported at a local ethnic restaurant, I thought. Nope again. He got it from bird poop on electrical wires, at the scene of an accident where he was just trying to help out.
"WILMINGTON, N.C. -- The widow of a man who died two years after contracting a rare flesh-eating disease while helping at the scene of a car crash has settled with a tractor-trailer driver and his employer for $2.3 million.

Ronald Dyson, 56, pulled over to help after a car ran into a utility pole, causing metal cable wires to fall. A tractor-trailer then drove into the low-hanging cables and Dyson was lashed and tossed in the air, according to court papers.

The cables were coated with bird droppings that brought on the flesh-eating infection, said Thomas Goolsby, who represented Dyson's widow. He died in September 2003"
Should I be worrying about this, given that where I live legions of tweeties crap on everything they can? My vehicle, the stuff in the shed, fence wires, you name it, it all gets bird droppings on it. I have to come into contact with the vaguely offensive guano almost every day. Is it just luck that makes the difference? Was the late Mr. Ronald Dyson incredibly unlucky? Or are we all at risk?

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