Dear Lebanon, There’s No Such Thing As A “Guillain-Barre” Virus

When you think the Lebanese press circle couldn’t sink lower, they surprise you. Be it with their super horrible reporting which happens often, to them jumping on anything they’d deem as a scoop to lately causing the entire Lebanese population to panic over something called “Guillain-Barre” virus that’s ravaging the country.

I have no idea who told them about that so-called virus, but this is bullshit.

I first saw the story on MTV. And like the good media that they are, everyone else immediately jumped on the story because clearly we have nothing else to worry about in Lebanon so let’s add a horrible-looking virus flying in the air among us that can kill us at any moment.

Behold the credibility:

It’s the apocalypse I tell you, MTV-style.

In their defense, MTV did ask a doctor about it. And he gave them a more or less correct answer of what Guillan-Barre actually is. But I suppose MTV decided that the explanation was too non-dramatic and not-attention grabbing, so they figured they’d make up an entirely new virus strain and get Lebanese across the country to panic.

Let’s get a few things in order:

There’s no such thing as a “Guillain-Barre” virus, but there is something called a “Guillain-Barre” syndrome. That is to say there is no virus floating in the Lebanese air that will paralyze you, but there is a very well-documented syndrome called “Guillain-Barre” that is quite rare, albeit present, that affects the nerves and whose effect, when diagnosed and promptly treated, is almost entirely reversible.

This is what Guillain-Barre syndrome is:

Following an infection by a virus or a bacteria, some people develop antibodies that end up attacking their own nerves. The most common pathogen isolated in patients who have developed Guillain-Barre is a bacteria called “Campylobacter Jejuni” (don’t try to pronounce it).

As such, this syndrome is autoimmune (your own body attacking itself) and inflammatory (there’s an inflammation taking place) that targets myelin in your peripheral nervous system. Myelin is a form of insulation that covers nerve endings leading to much-faster propagation of messages. Damaging myelin leads to very slow nerve conduction, if not minimal conduction altogether.

This manifests in tingling in a person’s feet at first that propagates upwards to their legs and thighs, then hands and arms. Ultimately, a person would also stop being able to move their limbs altogether. The disease is progressive and ascending.

The main life threat of Guillain-Barre comes in it affecting a person’s respiratory muscles, that is to say since it ends up paralyzing muscles across the body, it might also paralyze the muscles that you need to breathe which causes a person to end up in respiratory failure. Don’t freak out, however, because this is a sign of a late progression of the disease and most people do not reach this stage and are managed well before it.

There’s no way to know if a person will develop Guillain-Barre or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re Lebanese, Sudanese or Vietnamese: the processes that cause a person to end up with the syndrome are under study. Being infected with a bacteria or a virus does not mean you will end up with this syndrome. It’s an extremely rare disease. However, it is manageable.

Since Guillain-Barre syndrome involves your own body attacking itself, treatment essentially alters this process of attack by blocking it or decreasing it. I have no idea about the cost of treatment, but it works well at stopping the progression of the disease and bringing back any person towards a full recovery.

Lebanese media want you to think Guillain-Barre is a death sentence. It’s a disease with a fancy name that most people know absolutely nothing about, so why not turn it into yet another Lebanese panic-du-jour to make people rush to their doctors and wonder if their seasonal allergies come spring time will get them paralyzed in a few weeks?

I have seen Guillain-Barre often. The patients I have seen were all okay. A neighbor and family friend was so unlucky she had Guillain-Barre twice. She made a full recovery both times and is now a fully functional woman in her thirties with absolutely no care in the world.

My advice is as follows: do not trust MTV, LBC, OTV, etc., when it comes to medical information. In the age of the internet, it is your duty first and foremost to make sure that what they’re saying is true or not. As a rule of thumb, they’re full of it most of the time. Deal with them as such.

Shame on MTV and whichever media outlet jumped on the story without fact-checking it. Google is your friend. Or, you know, a 3rd year medical student would’ve told you that you’re wrong.

Beiruting.com Fail – And Pictures of “Lebanon” Snow That Are NOT Lebanese

I woke up today to find two pictures circulating across my friends of the recent snowstorm in Lebanon. The first one is the following, “originally” shared by Beiruting.com, complete with a watermark for copyright:

The second one is the following, presumably of the Cedars:

Beiruting.com did not share the second one. I have no idea where it originated from.

Now the original version of the first picture, without the watermark, is the following:

How come there’s a non-watermark version of it?  Simply because this picture was not taken by Beiruting.com. This picture was taken by someone not in Lebanon but in Oswego, New York. That’s about 9000 kilometers away from where this picture was supposedly taken.

The second picture is actually in Japan and dates back from 2010, a relatively dry year in Lebanon. You may have not noticed the cars driving on the “wrong” side of the road. But I hardly believe we have the snow removal trucks in Lebanon that can do such a precise job. And suppose this is in the Cedars, would our beloved trees that are outside the main forest peak above the snow cover? I hardly think so. In fact, the second picture is part of a wider batch of pictures of Japan’s Snow Roadway. Check out this link for more images and this YouTube video as well:

It’s lovely to think highly of our country but I expect from renowned websites such as Beiruting.com to at least go through some fact checking before going after those coveted Facebook likes and shares (for the record, the picture has about 300 shares and 600 likes). As for the rest of the Lebanese, not everything landscape-wise that you find impressive is actually Lebanese.

If you want a sequence of real pictures of the recent blizzard, check out this link. These are pictures taken by Lebanese in their hometowns through their phones, cameras, DSLRs, not taken from Google images and stamped with a Lebanese stamp of approval.

MacRumors Fail – Apple Fourth Quarter Revenue Announcement

While announcing the revenue for Apple’s fourth quarter, which totalled $28 billion, bringing the company’s total revenue for 2011 fiscal year to over $108 billion, MacRumors committed a huge error, one that is fail-status worthy.

Check it out for yourself:

Of course it was fixed now. But when it’s online, it’s for everyone to see, right? Maybe next time they won’t be careless enough to have a “blah blah blah” ready draft for anything Apple.

Lebanon’s New Government

Congrats fellow Lebanese who might read this, we now have a government.
Regardless of its unipolitical color and the 5 month labor it went through to get here, we can now say that we are no longer governmentless.

And since 5 months without government render you immune to the overall uselessness of the whole process, let’s all deem the government formation a big fat fail.

1) It is a one-sided government, meaning the political struggle between both sides in the country was irrelevant to its formation.

2) It took 5 months for people among the same “team” to agree on forming the cabinet. 5 months for them to agree on 30 names. It took less to form the government with both sides included after the 2009 parliamentary elections.

3) The former opposition calls upon itself reform and change. Change is there: I’ve never heard some of those names before. And congrats to those new ministers. They will have a constant monthly paycheck till the day they die. Also, congrats to those people that made the governmental selection yet again. I mean, could you imagine a government without Ghazi Aridi as the minister of public works? Hello no! Reform, indeed.

4) There are more pro-Syria ministers in the new Lebanese cabinet than there will be in the theoretical Syrian government to be formed by Bashar Assad in Syria.

5) A few hours after the announcement of this glorious formation, two ministers have already submitted their resignations. Were they not aware they were going to be assigned? Apparently not. What’s the word (or acronym) to say here? Yes, LOL! Quoting my friend Boulos, “civil war cabinets have lasted more than this!”

It’s getting bigger. The fail is getting bigger.

So yeah, let us be happy today that the orange, yellow, green and other irrelevant people found it in them to stop the cockfight and form a government. Useless as it is and contradictory as it may be to the will of the people, we now have one. Insert fireworks show.

House – Season 7 Fail

I was watching the season 7 finale of House the other day and almost died laughing when I saw this serious iPhone fail:

You’d think they would take the time to make their fake calls credible. So Taub is receiving a “call ending” phone call from his wife, while he has “no service” to even receive a call and he still has the options to answer or decline, even though the call is supposedly ending.

Ah well, guess seeing the downhill season House was having, this should come at no surprise.