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The Missoulian from Missoula, Montana • Page 13
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The Missoulian from Missoula, Montana • Page 13

The Missouliani
Missoula, Montana
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ONTANA LIFE Tuesday, August 15, 1995 Missoulian Section ftu I WWW 1 WP" a Briefs C2 a Fitness Calendar C2 a Missoulian Classified C5 Quick Call, a free service of the flCdlU I Missoulian, offers additional HEALTH, INFORMATION Diai Q0 QjCkCa AND ENTER CATEGORY 1018. aoa-eses 0 i LJ 1 From the Carnage of World War II Came Medical Advances that Save Lives Today Years after bomb, nuclear medicine helps to heal Antibiotics kill deadly bacteria and become wonder drug By MICHAEL ROMANO Scrippi Howard Newi Service By STEVENSON SW ANSON Chicago Tribune I i i i i 1 Col. Cornelius Becker Philip, a medical entomologist at the lab, works on scrub typhus at San Jose, Mindoro, in the Philippines in 1945. Staff members from the Rocky Mountain Lab in Hamilton probably saved thousands of lives during World War II because of their efforts in disease research and vaccine production. Here, Lt.

1 urn M- OJ cLr ittaj LuJ I I i LJ ininimiiniirinii ROCKY MOUNTAIN LABS PLAYED KEY ROLE IN BATTLE Science abates yellow fever, killer typhus DENVER Dr. Jim Lbar clicks twice on the keyboard of his Macintosh, calling up the digital image of a human heart taken six years ago by a nuclear-imaging scan at University Hospital. With the click of another key, the heart begins to pump and beat functioning on the computer screen just as it did in the chest of the patient injected with a radioactive isotope called Thallium 201. The digital, three-dimensional image is made possible by nuclear medicine, an arcane, little-understood specialty that creates pictures of organs at work. It's called nuclear medicine because the technology relies on radioactive substances injected into the body.

Unlike the comparatively limited scope of X-rays, which produce still pictures of anatomy, these images are alive, demonstrating the function and physiology of the internal organs. "This is the reason I went into this field the technology is amazing," said Jim Lear, head of the nuclear medicine department at University Hospital. "We can get a picture of the heart beating, measure the movement of the blood and see if there are any abnormalities." Diagnosis of ailments made more accurate Though the technology has been available for more than two decades, gamma cameras, computer breakthroughs and advances in nuclear medicine have helped revolutionize the diagnosis of heart problems and a host of other diseases. "You can see the cells moving, the blood flowing, how the organ is functioning. That's the big difference," said Kristin Ludwig of the Virginia-based Society of Nuclear Medicine.

Other imaging technology reveals only Mill images. In its purest form, nuclear medicine really didn't blossom until after World War II, with the availability of nuclear byproducts. Its earliest application involved the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease, but its use now includes everything from cardiology to orthopedics. "The pivotal point for nuclear medicine was Aug. 6 Hiroshima," said Dr.

Millard Croll, a Philadelphia-based physician who serves as historian for the Society of Nuclear Medicine, which was formed in 1954 and has about 14,000 members. "Before 1945, there was a lot of effort with radiology and radiation and some treatment of patients with a radioactive material called P-32. After the first radioactive material was provided for peacetime use a year later, there was a tremendous demand around the country." The real expansion began in the 1960s, thanks to the invention of the gamma camera, which would take pictures in one woop. and the use of technctium-99m. an "ideal" element for imaging of the body's physiological processes.

In the near future, nuclear medicine may act as an important supplement to mammography, prov iding a more accurate, digital NUCLEAR. pse C-3 THE FACES THAT WENT WITH THE broken bodies have blurred together for C.W. Hesseltine, a medic at the U.S. Army hospital in southern England during World War II. But one soldier stands out in his memory.

During the bloody fighting in France following D-Day, the GI had been hit by a shell fragment that had ripped away flesh and muscle and left him open to infection. This type of gangrene, a scourge of warfare, produces a toxin that can kill a victim after a few days of agony. The man had one of the most advanced and gruesome cases Hesseltine had seen. He soon would be in his grave if something weren't done. A doctor inserted a needle in one of the soldier's veins and hooked the needle to tubing that led from a bottle filled with a yellow liquid.

The liquid slowly dripped into the GI's body; miraculously, the gangrene relinquished its grip. The bottle contained penicillin, the original wonder drug, which, like tanks and battleships, was on jthe front lines because of a concentrated wartime emphasis on production. "It saved his life," recalled Hesseltine, who worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Peoria, 111., where penicillin was first mass-produced. "It's saved thousands and thousands of lives and the important thing is the production of penicillin by fermentation established a whole new method of producing other antibiotics." Medical progress is the handmaiden of war "War is the perverse handmaiden of medical progress," said Dr.

Russell medical historian and professor at the Medical College of Philadelphia and Hahnemann University. "Practically every war results in medical advances in two fields: infectious diseases and trauma surgery." Advances were made in those fields and others as a result of World War II, but, as befits such a cataclysmic event, it did much more. It led to a profound change in the way doctors and patients viewed medicine. Medicine had come far by 1941: Doctors could vaccinate people to prevent many diseases, and they could relieve a great deal of pain and suffering. But they could not reverse the course of a disease or infection.

Because of wartime work on penicillin done at the USDA's Peoria laboratory, the age of antibiotics was born; and, in the following years, diseases and infections that had beset humanity for millennia beat a headlong retreat. Penicillin had been discovered in 1928 by Alexander ricming. a Canadian working at a hospital laboratory in London. A bacteria culture accidentally was contaminated with a mold, and Fleming noted that the mold was killing the bacteria around it. Its lethal effects were so potent that it tet MEDICINE, page C-3 By MEA ANDREWS tf the Miuouliu control.

Scrub typhus, spread by mites, was a killer disease during the war, knocking out about 18,000 Allied troops in the Far Eastern Theater. Members of the U.S. Typhus commission and RML researchers were sent to the South Pacific to study and control the disease. Scrub typhus could kill as many as 30 percent of its victims in some outbreaks. RML lost one of its laboratory workers senior scientific aide LeRoy Jones in 1944 when a syringe slipped and pricked Jones' hand, giving him a fatal dose of the scrub typhus germs.

Five staff members from the Rocky Mountain Laboratory were in Myitkyina, Burma, working on the disease when the war ended in 1945. Several researchers from the Rocky Mountain Laboratory earned the United States of America Typhus Commission Medal, a distinguished award for meritorious service. "Those were years that were very profitable from a scientific perspective," said Bob Philip, who still lives in Hamilton. "There were great advances in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases during that time." control measures, and developed and demonstrated new ways to protect individual soldiers, including the "impregnated" uniforms soaked with chemicals to keep deadly carriers away. "They fully expected to encounter an epidemic of typhus," Bob Philip said.

"Because of the nature of prison camps and concentration camps, they felt it was just a matter of time before an epidemic would break out." Of grave concern was epidemic typhus, transmitted by body lice. In the winter of 1943-44, as the Allied troops advanced into Italy, the possibility of an outbreak was real, especially in the area around Naples. Nearly a million people lived there at the time and thousands crowded into shelters without food or clothing because the city had been heavily bombed. The first case of epidemic typhus in Naples was recorded in October. Members of American typhus commissions including men from the Hamilton lab -were dispatched to Italy to help.

The de-lousing treatment: dusting people with the insecticide DDT. It worked. A potentially deadly outbreak of epidemic typhus was brought under produced at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Hamilton, just one of the important wartime jobs handled by the federal outpost for the United States Public Health Service. "Not too many people know about the work during the war," said Bob Philip of Hamilton, who retired from the lab in the 1980s. His father, Cornelius Becker Philip, was an RML entomologist who joined the Sanitary Corps during the war, then returned to Montana and in the 1960s became director of the laboratory.

Before the war, RML was already nationally honored for its top research staff and its discovery, in the 1920s, of a vaccine for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Many staffers including C.B. Philip, Glen Kohls, Emlen "John" Bell, Lyndahl Hughes, Trygvre Bcrge and William Jellison served in some capacity during the war. Several were named to the United States of America Typhus Commission, whose mission included monitoring and preventing many of the infectious diseases caused by insects and small animals. Commission members surveyed infected areas, carried out investigations, supervised HAMILTON Yellow fever's symptoms may go away in less than a week, but that week is miserable.

First comes the headache, fever and nausea, and maybe a nosebleed. In more severe cases, pain in the head, neck, back and legs is debilitating. Damage to the liver and kidneys may follow, and the skin turns yellow. Ninety percent of the people who get sick recover. But imagine yellow fever in a military camp: Highly infectious, th8 disease spreads quickly, and hundreds of soldiers could be sickened in a very short period, weakening both the body and battle defenses.

During World War II, every soldier sent overseas got at least an initial protection against the mosquito-spread yellow fever. Each received a dose of yellow-fever vaccine. Nearly all of that vaccine was Hear more about it Call the Missoulian's QuickCall at 542-2525, enter category: 9663 to hear researcher Dr. Edward Lichter of the University of Illinois talk about World War IPs Read more clout it "Medicine in America: A Short History," by James H. Casscdy.

Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. "Fighting for Life: American Military Medicine in World War II," by Albert Cowdrey, Free Press. 1994. "From Humors to Medical Science: A History of American Medicine." by John Duffy. University of Illinois Press.

1993. "The Social Transformation of American Medicine," by Paul Starr, Basic Books. I9S2. role in the development of penicillin. 9670 to hear Carol Cousins, of Lifesource Blood Services in Chicago, discuss the medical treatment of wounded soldiers during World War II and its effect on today's procedures..

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