Endocardial fibroelastosis

Endocardial Fibroelastosis (EFE) is a heart disorder of young children. It’s characterized by a thickening of the inmost lining of the heart chambers, usually occurring in children under 2. Back in the day, a few decades ago, it was halfway common, killing about 1 in 5000 kids.

Now it’s much rarer, almost gone. For a long time (as far back as 1918) people suspected that the mumps virus had something to do with EFE. When an effective mumps vaccine was introduced in 1978, EFE practically disappeared. Since then, genetic investigations of preserved samples have pretty much nailed mumps as the main cause of EFE.

I don’t miss it.

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11 Responses to Endocardial fibroelastosis

  1. erica says:

    Nice–another one bites the dust.
    Well, that’s one way of finding out some of what a bug causes —watching for what *doesn’t* happen after the vaccine has been around for awhile.

    Know anything about the progress for an rsv vaccine? They thought they were close once, but what they came up with had big problems. Last I heard they thought they were on their way, but I haven’t read anything lately. A neighbor’s child was hospitalized with it last year. Nasty ole virus is that thing. I can remember being “tented” with the vaporizor going when I was a small child. (Scary for a kid.) Looking back, good chance the respiratory bug that caused that was rsv, I guess.

  2. Paul Jaminet says:

    Interesting. One of the difficulties in linking causes to health effects is that there are often long delays. A childhood illness might show up as a high cardiovascular mortality 60 years later. CVD mortality peaked about 1960 and has fallen 30% since. Since medical care is rarely helpful, obesity and diabetes have been becoming more prevalent in the same period, and metabolic syndrome influences CVD risk, it’s interesting to speculate on what caused it. Vaccines preventing chronic infections seems a plausible possibility.

    • dearieme says:

      My wife suggests that the decline in heart attacks is a benefit of the wide use of antibiotics. Allow me to call this “Dearieshe’s Conjecture”.

  3. dearieme says:

    How many other heart problems are caused by micro-organisms? Some people claim that the not-remotely-understood rise and fall of heart attack rates looks like a case of infection.

  4. dearieme says:

    Oops. Paul made much the same point, but rather better.

  5. Toddy Cat says:

    It’s remarkable how much we could learn if we (or some of us, such as a few doctors one could name) would simply admit that we don’t know something. As Will Rogers once pointed out, it’s not what we don’t know, but what we know that isn’t so, that causes so many problems.

  6. bruce says:

    I suppose widespread contraception has made the Ross Thomas era ‘don’t worry ladies, I’m sterile from mumps’ line obsolete, also. Heckbutt.

  7. JayMan says:

    Off topic, but is this one of you guy’s chests? :)

    An amazing piece by French tattoo artist Xoil

    • gcochran9 says:

      Well, there was that time back in grad school when I was walking through the Physics building and a young lady who worked in the library came up to me in the corridor and tore my shirt off, but it’s not me.

      Must be Henry.

  8. dave chamberlin says:

    I can’t imagine what it was like living in a time when half the babies born didn’t make it to age ten. Half your children die, half your brothers and sisters die, and the survivors are warped in ways we can barely imagine. Allow me to plug a good book, “The Great Influenza” by John Barry. It isn’t just about the terrible pandemic that occured at the end of World War 1, it is about how medicine turned the corner from hurting more people than it helped around 1900. Good luck with your next book gents, may The Fat God of Fun bless you with another page turner that rankles the status quo.

  9. jpirving says:

    I wonder if this story might shed light on the nature of the pathogen? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/29/didier-jambart-parkinsons-drug-gay-sex-addict-glaxosmithkline_n_2212348.html

    Probably not, but worth bringing to your attention, if you hadn’t heard this strange tale.

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