Woman's selfies capture moving lump on face: a parasite
The lump appeared after the unnamed woman, 32, visited a rural area outside Moscow. First, it was a small bump under her left eye. Five days later, it appeared above the eye. Her upper lip was bulging 10 days after that.
Doctors ultimately gripped the bulge with forceps and, using local anesthesia, pulled out a parasitic worm known as Dirofilaria repens.
"The parasite can appear and disappear in few minutes," Dr. Vladimir Kartashev, a professor of medicine at Rostov State Medical University who saw the patient, told CNN in an email. "Doctors who are not familiar with the disease don't believe ... the patients. That's why I asked the patient to make selfies."
But Kartashev had seen "at least 10 patients with the same presentation before," and the migrating form can be "extremely confusing," he said.
The parasitic worm is normally found in dogs and other carnivores, entering the body as a larvae through a mosquito bite, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Humans may become "accidental hosts," the agency says.
"It is rare for it to cause disease in humans," Dr. Jorgen Kurtzhals, professor at University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen University Hospital, told CNN in an email. Kurtzhals was not involved in the care of this patient but has previously co-authored a case in which one of these worms was removed through eye surgery.
In their adult form, they can be as long as 170 millimeters and live for five to 10 years, according to CDC. Cases have been reported around the globe, particularly in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.
"Dirofilaria repens is an emerging parasite of the Old World," Kartashev said.
In humans, D. repens, as it's referred to, usually appears as lumps under the skin and have occasionally been found in the eye. But in rarer cases it has been found elsewhere: the lung, breast, male genitals. In a 2009 case report, one strain of the parasite even caused meningoencephalitis, or inflammation of the brain and its surrounding membranes.
Generally, though, the worm causes "no serious harm to humans (but certainly to the dogs)," Kurtzhals said. "A lot of people have a fear of contracting worms of various kinds. I think it is important not to scare people. This is still a very rare condition -- despite the apparently rising numbers."
Because the worms typically remain infertile in humans, the cure is usually to remove the parasite through a small incision.
"It took not more than 15 minutes," Kartashev said.
Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language, has died
She died Tuesday in her sleep at age 46, The Gorilla Foundation said in a statement.
"Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy," the release said. "She was beloved and will be deeply missed."
She learned to communicate at a young age
The western lowland gorilla was born at the San Francisco Zoo in 1971 and began to learn sign language early in life. S
Researchers moved her to Stanford in 1974 and established The Gorilla Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to preserve and protect gorillas.
Koko and The Gorilla Foundation later moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains.
She liked to read and be read to, a blog post by The Gorilla Foundation said. She purred at parts of books she particularly enjoyed.
She was very maternal toward kittens, and has had several throughout her lifetime. Her "tenderness" showed people how loving a gorilla can be, the foundation said.
Koko made famous friends like Fred Rogers, who appeared on TV as Mr. Rogers, and Robin Williams. She used her sign language skills to communicate with them.
She was said to have understood some 2,000 words of spoken English, and could usually keep up with conversations.
She taught the world about gorillas
The foundation says she has taught the world a profound amount about the emotional capacity and cognitive abilities of gorillas.
Koko appeared in several documentaries and twice on the cover of National Geographic. The first cover featured a photo she'd taken of herself in a mirror, the foundation said.
She was widely promoted through appearances and the release of a picture book about her and a kitten that lived with her.
She has also been exhibited as a painter.
The foundation will continue its work on conservation and preservation of gorillas with continued projects, including a sign language application featuring Koko.
Weapons reveal how this 5,300-year-old ice mummy lived -- and died
The latest study of the weapons he was found with, published in the journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday, reveals that Otzi was right-handed and had recently resharpened and reshaped some of his tools before his death. They were able to determine this by using high-powered microscopes to analyze the traces of wear on his tools.
The upper half of the Iceman's body was accidentally discovered by a vacationing German couple hiking in the North Italian Alps in 1991. Otzi was found with a dagger, borer, flake, antler retoucher and arrowheads. But some of the stone was collected from different areas in Italy's Trentino region, which would have been about 43.5 miles from where he was thought to live.
"Through analyzing the Iceman's toolkit from different viewpoints and reconstructing the entire life cycle of each instrument, we were able to gain insights into Otzi's cultural background, his individual history and his last hectic days," Ursula Wierer, study author and archaeologist, wrote in an email.
"The Iceman travelled with a compact lithic toolkit formed by few worn out, repeatedly resharpened tools, mostly used for cutting plants. Ötzi was a righthander and had a quite good skill in pressure flaking by using his own functional retoucher."
And when compared with artifacts recovered from the Copper Age, when the Iceman lived, it appears that his tools were stylistically influenced by other Alpine cultures. Clearly, the 46-year-old Iceman, who lived in the South Tyrol region of Northern Italy between 3100 and 3370 BC, survived by staying on the move.
That is, until he was violently killed.
These new findings add to the wealth of knowledge we've gained about this mysterious figure. Here's what else we know about the Iceman and how he was killed.
Otzi became a glacier mummy through a unique set of circumstances. He was crossing the Tisenjoch pass in the Val Senales valley of South Tyrol when he was shot in the back with an arrow by a Southern Alpine archer and became naturally preserved in the ice. Otzi, his clothing and his tools were remarkably well-preserved.
The arrowhead is still embedded in his left shoulder and wasn't found until 2001. He would have bled out and died shortly after because it pierced a vital artery. There is also a wound on the back of his head, but that may have occurred when he fell after being struck by the arrow.
A cut on his right hand, indicating hand-to-hand combat, never had a chance to heal before he died. This means that conflict happened before he was shot, perhaps hours or days before, and may have led to the second conflict that killed him.
The injury to his right hand would have made it difficult for Otzi to prepare his weapons in case of another attack. This is most likely why the bow and arrows found with him were unfinished: to replace ones that were lost or damaged in the previous conflict.
But the motive for his killing is unclear, because he was found with a very valuable copper ax. It is the only one of its kind ever discovered and could have functioned as a weapon and tool, as well as a status symbol. During the Copper Age, copper axes were owned by men of rank and buried with them. Copper was the first metal used to make weapons and tools.
During the Copper Age, metal was extracted and smelted, creating new trades and professions. This increased long-distance trade, boosted exchanges among cultures and led to the rise of new social groups.
Since 1998, Otzi and his artifacts have been on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. He was nicknamed Otzi because he was found in the Otztal Alps of South Tyrol.
His clothing, made from leather, hide, braided grass and animal sinews, provides a unique window into the past because other clothing from that time has never been recovered. His hide coat, leggings, loincloth, belt, fur shoes and bearskin cap would have kept him warm in the cold, wet climate.
He also carried a type of wooden backpack, containers made of birch bark rather than breakable pottery, the ax, an unfinished longbow, a quiver of arrows in progress, a flint dagger, a retoucher to sharpen blades, birch fungus to start fires or use as a therapeutic, and a stone disc to attach things to his belt.
One of the most-studied mummies
Otzi was briefly "thawed out" in 2010 so researchers could take tissue samples, and remarkably, he was so well-preserved that red blood cells were recovered. His nuclear genome was isolated in 2011. This revealed not only his blood type but his ancestry, appearance, medical conditions and predispositions to disease.
A reconstruction of Otzi, based on forensics and 3D modeling, showcases what he may have looked like in life.
He stood at 5 feet 2 inches tall and had a slightly muscular build of 110 pounds, a narrow and pointed face, tanned skin, brown eyes, long dark hair and a shaggy beard. His blood type was O-positive, and he was lactose-intolerant.
Otzi had a high risk of cardiovascular disease and traces of Borrelia, tick-borne bacteria that cause Lyme disease, in his genome. Bacteria in his stomach could have led to stomach ulcers. He had intestinal whipworms.
His age was considered old at the time, and he probably had arthritis. There are tattoos all over his body, specifically in places that might be considered therapeutic for someone with arthritis -- especially because they couldn't be seen if he was clothed.
On his father's side, Otzi had common ancestors with those who lived in Sardinia and Corsica and migrated to Europe from the east. His mother's side could be traced to a population from the central Alps that doesn't exist anymore.
His last meal, most likely an hour before his death, included grain and ibex and deer meat.
But many questions remain. What was his occupation? Why was he nomadic during a time of settlements? Why was he killed? The ongoing investigation into Otzi may uncover those answers in the future.