Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 001

Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 001

Just when you thought your brain could unwind on a Friday, you realise that it would rather be challenged with some good old fashioned medical trivia.

The word trivia is derived from the Latin word trivium which means tri-three, via -way, i.e. where three ways meet namely grammar, rhetoric and logic. So sit back, relax and see how much trivia you can dig out of that noggin.

Question 1

  • What is Melkersonn’s Syndrome?

  • Melkersson’s Syndrome or Melkersson–Rosenthal syndrome
  • Rare familial neurological disorder characterized by recurrent facial paralysis, swelling of the face and lips (usually the upper lip), and the development of folds and furrows in the tongue.
  • 1901 Grigorii Ivanovich Rossolimo first made reference to the triad of symptoms in a woman suffering from migraine
  • 1928 Ernst Gustaf Melkersson reported an association between recurrent facial paralysis and angioneurotic oedema
  • 1930 Curt Rosenthal added lingua plicata (hypertrophy and fissuring of the tongue) to complete the triad of features
Lingula Plicata

Lingula Plicata

Question 2

  • In the 1970’s what caused disco felon?

  • Repeated finger-snapping at discos (so think twice before hitting the club tonight)
  • A felon is a painful purulent infection at the end of a finger
  • 1979 First reported in the NEJM
    • Walker FW, Lillemoe KD, Farquharson RR. Disco felon. N Engl J Med. 1979 Jul 19;301(3):166-7.
'Spokane Daily Chronicle' July 1979 Disco Felon

‘Spokane Daily Chronicle’ July 1979

Question 3

  • Which poison killed the Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov?

  • Ricin – injected via an umbrella pellet gun on Thursday, September 7th, 1978 at 1.30pm at the south end of Waterloo Bridge, London.
  • Ricin is a ribosome-inactivating protein found in castor beans (Ricinus communis).
  • Ricin is a toxin that is fatal to humans in extremely small doses. The lethal dose for Ricin is 1 milligram (inhaled or ingested) and 500 micrograms (intravenous).

Ricin Umbrella (International Spy Museum)

Question 4

  • From what animals do cats catch cowpox?

  • Rodents
  • Cats get cowpox infections by being bitten by voles and wood mice.
  • Infected cats do not usually manifest any signs or symptoms of the disease.
  • Transmission to humans is rare.

Question 5

  • With what nerve gas were commuters poisoned on the underground train system in Tokyo in 1995?

  • Subway Sarin Incident (地下鉄サリン事件, Chikatetsu Sarin Jiken)
  • Sarin is a nerve agent first produced by German scientists in 1938
  • Sarin is a colourless, odourless gas with a lethal dose of just 0.5mg for an adult human (or 0.01mg/kg of body weight)
Sarin Nerve Agent (GB)

Sarin Nerve Agent (GB)

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    • says

      I think we will aim for that sort of level…
      0-1/5 makes people angry and frustrated (this is fun after all)
      2-4/5 makes people feel knowledgeable and useful to society
      5/5 just shouldn’t happen unless you have a brain the size of a planet

  1. says

    My understanding is that it was never actually established that ricin was the agent that killed Georgi Markov, and that the toxin was never recovered from the injected pellet. It is true that experiments with injected ricin in animals produced similar effects to those seen in Markov. It is also true that many people in the intelligence communities both in the West and in Eastern Europe believe it was ricin. But after three decades, the case has not yet been completely settled.