Visit Blog Website

49 posts · 58,601 views

Body Horrors looks at the history, anthropology and geography of infectious diseases and parasites. Rebecca Kreston is an infectious disease specialist trained in microbiology and epidemiology. She obtained her Biology degree from Reed College and her Masters of Science in Tropical Medicine from Tulane University. She's lived in tropical jungles, beaches and deserts around the world and has been exposed to several of the diseases that she studies. She currently lives in New Orleans, is a first year medical student and regularly battles insects of the Diptera, Siphonaptera and Hymenoptera orders.

Rebecca Kreston
49 posts

Sort by: Latest Post, Most Popular

View by: Condensed, Full

  • June 28, 2015
  • 03:10 PM

Blood & Fog: The Military's Germ Warfare Tests in San Francisco

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

The Nuremberg Code was drafted in 1947 following the appalling revelations of human experimentation committed in Nazi concentration camps. The overarching goal of the Code was to establish a set of rules for the ethical conduct of research using human subjects, guaranteeing that the rights and welfare of such participants would be protected. Two important principles guide and define this Code: the concept of voluntary, informed consent and that no experiment shall be conducted in which "there i........ Read more »

WHEAT RP, ZUCKERMAN A, & RANTZ LA. (1951) Infection due to chromobacteria; report of 11 cases. A.M.A. archives of internal medicine, 88(4), 461-6. PMID: 14867953  

  • August 31, 2014
  • 05:20 PM

Heroin’s Anthrax Problem

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

Anthrax is a deadly disease with high rates of morbidity and mortality. Because it is, thankfully, also quite rare, it is relatively easy to track its whereabouts and going-ons when an outbreak occurs. Typically, outbreaks of anthrax have been traced to groups of people involved in high-risk activities involving grazing animals and their byproducts: anthrax favors shepherds, butchers, wool-sorters, leather workers, and even the odd drum-playing hippies. In 2009, however, an outbreak upended this........ Read more »

  • November 15, 2013
  • 01:30 PM

Caution to the Wind: Dirty Horns are the Clarion Call for Microbes

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

The professional musician who follows her dream of performing on the stage is greeted by an array of unusual occupational hazards. These are not limited to those late night hours spent in bars exposed to cigarette smoke and aggressive groupies but the risks of carpal tunnel, hoarseness, hearing loss, and the longterm effects of strange sleeping schedules as well. For those that provide their marching bands, funk joints, and jazz ensembles with that crucial brass sound, however, they may be at ad........ Read more »

  • July 16, 2013
  • 12:00 PM

Asymmetric (Gender) Warfare & Japan's Rubella Virus Outbreak

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

Japan is in the midst of a rubella outbreak that has already infected over 5,000 people in just the first four months of this year. Since the early 2000s, the country has undergone cyclical five-year rubella epidemics, with community-wide outbreaks cresting in the spring and summer. But in the past two years the number of infections has surged dramatically from a hundred-odd cases every year into the thousands, and a weird epidemiological pattern has emerged thanks to a quirk in Japan’s va........ Read more »

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013) Nationwide rubella epidemic - Japan, 2013. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 62(23), 457-62. PMID: 23760185  

  • June 20, 2013
  • 05:20 PM

Purdah? I Hardly Know Ya!: Social Influences On Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

A potential epidemiological phenomenon may exist in the transmission of Middle East respiratory syndrom (MERS) in Saudi ARabia: men have made up the majority of infected cases and the low rates of infection among women may be due to an emphasis on the wearing of the face veil, known as the “niqab,” in Arab culture.... Read more »

Ahmad EF, Mohammed M, Al Rayes AA, Al Qahtani A, Elzubier AG, & Suliman FA. (2001) The effect of wearing the veil by Saudi ladies on the occurrence of respiratory diseases. The Journal of asthma : official journal of the Association for the Care of Asthma, 38(5), 423-6. PMID: 11515979  

  • June 11, 2013
  • 06:45 PM

Alchemists Gone Bad: What You Should Know About Biological Warfare

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

Spears. Bows and arrows. Swords. Guns. Bombs. Drones. Microbes. The evolution of weapons and forms of warfare shadows our technological advancements, from the field of metallurgy to that of microbiology.... Read more »

Frischknecht, F. (2003) The history of biological warfare. EMBO Reports, 4(Supp1). DOI: 10.1038/sj.embor.embor849  

  • May 23, 2013
  • 01:00 PM

Microbial Misadventures: Exploits in Botulism & Pruno In Our Prison Population

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

Drinking pruno is a risky endeavor, both in terms of its offense to culinary sensibilities and to one's health. However, turned stomachs are not the only hazard here; you may add a desire to avoid botulism to your list of reasons to shy away from you'r mates latest batch of prison hooch. The soil-dwelling bacterium Clostridium botulinum can contaminate fruits and veggies, and, in warm, oxygen-deprived conditions, produces the neuroparalytic toxin botulinum. Even more wholesome DIY ende........ Read more »

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013) Notes from the field: botulism from drinking prison-made illicit alcohol - Arizona, 2012. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 62(5), 88. PMID: 23388552  

  • May 8, 2013
  • 12:00 PM

Microbial Misadventures: Anthrax, Hippies & Drum Circles

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

When you think of drum circles taking place in the United States, visions of hippies, Birkenstocks and the vibrant green lawns of private colleges may appear. The bacteria Bacillus anthracis, or anthrax, does not often materialize alongside the skunky mix of patchouli and ganja hovering above the crowd in one’s visions of (ar)rhythmic drumming events.
... Read more »

  • May 8, 2013
  • 01:30 AM

Atmospheric Conditions Influence Outbreaks of Disease in Europe

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

A recently published paper in Scientific Reports has found that climate variability in the form of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) has had a significant impact on the occurrence of disease outbreaks in Europe over the past fifty years. Researchers in France and the United Kingdom studied 2,058 outbreaks occurring in 36 countries from 114 infectious diseases from 1950 to 2009 and found that climatic variations and seasonal changes in air pressure across the continent attributed to the NAO in........ Read more »

Morand S, Owers KA, Waret-Szkuta A, McIntyre KM, & Baylis M. (2013) Climate variability and outbreaks of infectious diseases in Europe. Scientific reports, 1774. PMID: 23639950  

  • April 30, 2013
  • 12:30 PM

The Climatic Origins of the Malaysian Nipah Virus Outbreak

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

One of the hardest questions to answer in an infectious disease outbreak investigation is "Why?"

Why then? Why there? These questions can be almost impossible to answer - not only because of their heady metaphysical nature but also because of the difficulty of assessing the minute interactions between microbe, environment and human host. Public health officials are often left shrugging their shoulders, half-heartedly admitting to an unsatisfied public that they just don't know ........ Read more »

  • March 20, 2013
  • 01:00 PM

Suck It: The Ins and Outs of Mouth Pipetting

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

If you ever find yourself working in an infectious disease laboratory, whether it’s of the diagnostic or research variety, the overarching goal is not to put any microbes in your eye, an open wound or your mouth. Easy enough, right? Wear gloves, maybe goggles, work in fume hoods and don’t mouth pipette. When working with pathogenic bacteria and viruses, priority number one is Do Not Self-Inoculate.

Today our manual pipettes are rather sophisticated, plastic-y devices perfectly cal........ Read more »

  • March 17, 2013
  • 03:00 PM

On Equilibrium & Balance in Your Microbial Universe

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

Two recent studies - the ominously named "fecal transplant" study and another on acne-causing bacteria - reinforce a compelling idea about our microbiomes that has been brewing for a few years: that some infectious diseases may be due in part to a disharmonious balance between pathogenic bad-guy bacteria and our resident commensal good-guy bacteria. ... Read more »

van Nood, E., Vrieze, A., Nieuwdorp, M., Fuentes, S., Zoetendal, E., de Vos, W., Visser, C., Kuijper, E., Bartelsman, J., Tijssen, J.... (2013) Duodenal Infusion of Donor Feces for Recurrent Clostridium difficile. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(5), 407-415. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1205037  

  • March 7, 2013
  • 01:30 PM

A Nepalese Odysseus: XDR-TB is in South Texas

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

The Wall Street Journal has a superb write-up of a Nepalese man infected with extremely drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) who is currently detained at the US border in South Texas.

Traveling in all of the modern ways known to man – by foot, car, boat and plane – the man ventured from his home in Nepal, traipsing through South Asia, flying to Brazil and hoofing it through Central America until reaching the southernmost tip of Texas.... Read more »

  • March 7, 2013
  • 02:42 AM

A Nepalese Odysseus: XDR-TB is in South Texas

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

The Wall Street Journal has a superb write-up of a Nepalese man infected with extremely drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) who is currently detained at the US border in South Texas. XDR-TB is resistant to four of the major types of antibiotics that are used to treat and control TB infections and this man is the first [...]... Read more »

  • February 21, 2013
  • 07:50 PM

Adventures in Dentures: The Street Dentists, Barbers & Tattoo Artists of India

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

For those that aren’t familiar with the kaleidoscopic charms of India, one of the most fascinating aspects of the country is its massive street economy. You can find anything you want on the sidewalks of this country, whether it’s fried delicacies, tattoos, sex or on-the-quick dentistry. You just need to know where to look.... Read more »

Abraham, P. (2012) Viral Hepatitis in India. Clinics in Laboratory Medicine, 32(2), 159-174. DOI: 10.1016/j.cll.2012.03.003  

  • February 8, 2013
  • 05:38 PM

Mardi Gras at the Leprosarium

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

Just as residents of Louisiana don masks and costumes to watch and revel in the sights of the parades, so too would the quarantined residents of the leprosarium. Concealing their identity and disfigurements, the leprosarium's residents could have their own day to celebrate Mardi Gras, liberated socially and psychologically from their disfiguring disease.... Read more »

Gaudet, M. (1998) The World Downside Up: Mardi Gras at Carville. The Journal of American Folklore, 111(439), 23. DOI: 10.2307/541318  

  • January 11, 2013
  • 01:20 PM

A Mess in Texas: What Happened in Dallas with West Nile Virus?

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

That insistent buzzing drone you hear? It’s the sound of our burgeoning mosquito problem and the nasty diseases that they carry wreaking havoc throughout the world. 2012 was a prodigious year for mosquito-borne arboviral diseases, with West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, dengue and yellow fever outbreaks and epidemics raging in the United States, the Sudan, Puerto Rico, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Peru, Brazil and many other nations besides.

If you live in the US, you might kn........ Read more »

  • December 6, 2012
  • 12:08 PM

A Moldy Cantaloupe & The Dawn of Penicillin

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

For something that grows so carelessly and freely on our fruits and breads, mass providing the white mold and its hidden wonder drug penicillin was devilishly difficult. After Alexander Fleming's accidental discovery of a bacteria-killing mold contaminating his cultures of Staphylococcus aureus, it languished as a laboratory parlor trick until World War II and the desperate need for treatments to fight bacterial infections became quickly apparent.... Read more »

  • November 23, 2012
  • 05:00 PM

A Season of Hemorrhagic Fevers

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been bedeviled by viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks this year. Since the summer, Ebola and Marburg have appeared throughout the two verdant countries killing dozens of people. Both countries are incredibly rich and diverse in their ecology - the Congo Basin is one of the largest and densely forested regions in the world - and much of their economy depends upon safari tourism and gorilla trekking. The livelihood of their peoples is also greatly rel........ Read more »

  • November 9, 2012
  • 04:51 PM

The Immunological Blitzkrieg That Is HIV Infection

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

It can be hard to comprehend the damage that pathogenic viruses and microbes can inflict on the human body, especially if you have scientists prattling on about cells, using multi-syllabic acronyms and tossing around - god forbid! - actual numbers. It's helpful to have easily understood images to help put diseases into perspective, to understand that viruses like HIV have tangible and real effects. ... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit