Quick Get me a Spider!

Most of us get a little excited when we see a big spider, but for the unfortunate few who fall victim to the bite of the daunting Brazilian wandering spider, that “excitement” takes on a whole new meaning: The venom of the wandering spider — also known as the banana spider (or more formally Phoneutria nigriventer) causes erections in men.

“The venom of the P. nigriventer spider is a very rich mixture of several molecules,” says Dr. Kenia Nunes, a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia who is currently studying the odd side effect. “These molecules are called toxins, and then we have various toxins in this venom with different activity. Because of this, when a human is bitten by this spider, we can observe many different symptoms including priapism, a condition in which the penis is continually erect.”

In addition to the hours-long painful erection, the wandering spider’s bite can cause loss of muscle control, severe pain, difficulty breathing and, if not treated, death, due to oxygen deprivation (with anti-venom, the victim usually recovers within a week.)

Now from the Anals of Totally Gross

A Chinese man spent 55 years with the opening to his rectum in the wrong place. That’s an unusually long time to live without a normal anus.

He had a relatively common birth defect known as imperforate anus, a condition in which one out of every 5,000 infants is born with a misplaced, blocked, or missing rectal opening. The problem occurs slightly more frequently in boys than girls, and its cause is unknown.

Surgeons typically repair the abnormality during infancy. Unfortunately for Wu, a Chinese farmer from Hubei Province, he couldn’t afford this operation until middle age.

So, how did he move his bowels for more than half a century?

“Wu endured a .5 centimeter diameter surgical hole, or stoma, near his urethra for excrement, through which he could squeeze stools out with his hands,” according to a story originally reported in the Wuhan Morning News.

It sounds gross, but medically speaking, he had a colostomy, a procedure that created a less than 1/4-inch wide “surgical hole,” which substituted as his anus. This opening was located closer to his scrotum in a more forward position on his body than rear. Colostomy is the first stage of a two-part operation needed to correct imperforate anus.

Still, it’s an awfully messy — and weird — way to go to the bathroom. Although living this way wasn’t easy, he made do. “Wu had to pay attention to the food he ate, avoid constipation and was a frequent user of laxatives,” explains the newspaper account. “The dilemma left him very thin but it did not prevent him [from] getting married and having children.”

This January, the poor fellow finally saved up enough money so a surgeon could give him something he had waited a lifetime for — an anatomically correct anus.

“What I find most unique about this case is that this gentleman went for more than five decades without getting proper treatment,” says Dr. Rafael Pieretti, chief of pediatric urology at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston. “In developed countries, children have imperforate anus surgically repaired within the first year of life.” In fact, surgery to correct a less-serious form of the abnormality can be done by any pediatric surgeon; the more complicated cases go to pediatric urologists like Pieretti.

Fortunately for Wu, within three days of the operation, he reportedly “could excrete like normal people.”

Take a Pill and Dance Better

I myself am a little worried about this recent finding because I am a really bad dancer.

A Montreal man is giving hope to bad dancers everywhere.

Researchers at the University of Montreal have discovered that it’s not his fault he can never dance in time to music. His brain is incapable of recognizing rhythm.

“They hypothesize that the young man’s beat deafness arises from disconnects in a widespread brain network involved in musical beat, rhythm and meter,” according to the report in Science News.

But it doesn’t seem to have any real-world downsides, much like the tone-deafness suffered by many.

“We suspect that beat deafness is specific to music and is quite rare,” Jessica Phillips-Silver, one of the lead researchers, told Science News.

The young man, named Matthieu, is obviously a bad dancer, but also finds it difficult to clap in time at a concert. While bouncing to a rhythm, Matthieu was able to imitate others but “floundered” when asked to do it alone.  I am not sure it really give me hope, it kind of makes me think I have a brain disorder!

Bird Kills Man in Cockfighting Incident

It seems one of these guys finally got knocked off by an angry bird.  Jose Luis Ochoa, 35, of Lamont, California, was declared dead at a hospital about two hours after he was injured in Tulare County on Jan. 30, the Kern County coroner said.

An autopsy concluded Ochoa died of an accidental “sharp force injury” to his right calf.

“I have never seen this type of incident,” Sgt Martin King, a 24-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, told the Bakersfield Californian.

Ochoa and the other spectators fled when authorities arrived at the scene of the fight, King told the newspaper. Police found five dead roosters and other evidence of cockfighting at the location.  According to Kern County Superior Court records, Ochoa paid $370 in fines last year after pleading no contest to one count of owning or training an animal for fighting, according to the newspaper.  Speculation is that Jose simply got too close to the action and was sliced by the razor on one of the birds legs.

Girl Can Count to 26 on Her Fingers and Toes

No image yet but I am sure one will pop up shortly.  A mother in Myanmar says her baby girl’s 12 fingers and 14 toes have been no disadvantage — her grip may even be stronger than normal — and now she’s grasping for a Guinness record.

Phyo Min Min Soe, 26, knew her girl Le Yati Min had a little something extra since nearly the moment she was born.

“I asked the nurses whether my kid was born complete with hands and legs,” says her mother. “They replied that the baby even has more than she needs.”

Born with 12 fingers and 14 toes, Le may be the most “digitally enhanced” person in the world. Now, the 16-month-old girl’s family in impoverished Myanmar is seeking a Guinness World Record to prove it.

A neighbor is helping her mother apply to claim the record hearing that a boy from India currently holds bragging rights for the most digits, with 12 fingers and 13 toes.

Polydactylism — being born with an extra finger or toe — is fairly unusual, but it is even more rare for someone to have spare functional digits on both hands and feet, as Le does.

Le lives with her family in a small wooden house on the outskirts of the Southeast Asian country’s former capital of Yangon, where she runs around with seven toes on each foot.

Proud mom Phyo Min Min Soe, 26, said Tuesday that she’d be happy to see Le gain a world record, but even without that, her daughter already has a happy life, and even some natural advantages.

“She seems to have a stronger grip on things — so she doesn’t drop things much,” she says, as Le plays nearby with a mobile phone.

According to the Guinness World Records website, the record for most fingers and toes for a living person is currently held by two people in India, who have 12 fingers and 13 toes each.

Dr. Craig Camasta, a surgeon in Atlanta, Georgia, said many parents of babies with polydactylism choose to have an operation to get rid of the extra fingers or toes to avoid social stigma, but that “It’s not necessary that the extra digits be removed.”

The Pills Made Me a Sex, Drug Addict

The warning label on this drug would be quite long and more than a bit strange!

A French father-of-two is to take GlaxoSmithKline to court on Tuesday, alleging the British firm’s drug to treat Parkinson’s disease turned him into a gay sex and gambling addict.

The 51-year-old’s lawyers say their client’s behaviour changed radically after he was first administered the drug in 2003 for the illness, which causes tremors, slows movement and disrupts speech.

Didier Jambart, a married father-of-two who says he has attempted suicide three times, claims he became addicted to Internet gambling, losing the family’s savings and stealing to feed his habit.

He also became a compulsive gay sex addict and began exposing himself on the Internet and cross-dressing. His risky sexual encounters led to him being raped, his lawyers said.

The behaviour stopped when he stopped taking the drugs in 2005 but by then he had been demoted in his defence ministry job and was suffering from psychological trauma resulting from his addictions, his lawyers said.

The plaintiff is seeking a total of 450,000 euros ($610,000) in damages from Glaxo, which he accuses of selling a “defective” drug, and from his neurologist for having failed to properly inform him about the drug.

The drug, Requip, has been known for years to have undesired side effects but a warning only appeared on its package insert in 2006, his lawyers said.

Glaxo said it did not wish to comment on the case.  This is the kind of lawsuit you expect to see in the USA but not from France!