17 October 2005

venom roulette

An interesting story I heard on Radio Netherlands (6165 khz, SIO 555) on 18 October between 0400-0500 UTC was about a clinical trial of a new vaccine for yellow jacket allergy. The two drugs being compared were Alutar (the old one) and Purethal (the new one).

Patients with this allergy were recruited, given one of the two medications, and stung with a wasp. Before being stung at the clinic, Johan Smet was provided with life insurance worth EUR 3.5 million. His "category 2" allergy could result in extreme swelling, fever, and breathing difficulty following a wasp sting. His wife Axandra went with him to offer moral support, or to watch him die.

After Mr. Smet was stung, the poor wasp was squashed to death with a tissue.

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