Monday, October 10, 2011


Eric York is remembered as "a biologist's biologist," according to the National Park Service. His Mom said he loved the woods and his friends claim he could make a mountain lion trap with toothpicks. Eric had been working for Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona when he tracked, trapped, and collared a female mountain lion. When she gave birth, he ear-tagged her 3 kittens so he could identify them when they were old enough for their own telemetry collars. On Oct. 25, 2007, the lion's collar sent out a mortality signal, indicating that she hadn't moved in 24 hours. York located her carcass near the South Rim and believed she may have been killed in a fight with a male. Blood had pooled around her nose. but she had no other signs of trauma. He wanted more answers, so he decided to do a necropsy. Because the park has no forensics lab, he took the dead mountain lion home. He lifted it out of the back of his truck and laid it on a tarp on the floor of his garage to carry out the postmortem examination - little realizing that he would soon be the subject of one himself. Eric began feeling sick, so he paid a Nov. 2 visit to the park's medical clinic and was diagnosed with a flu-like illness. On Nov. 2, 2007, Eric York, 37, was found by his roommate lying motionless on the couch. Epidemiologists surmise that when he cut into the lion, he released and inhaled a cloud of deadly bacteria. Eric became a 21st c. victim of a medieval scourge: pneumonic plague.

Damian Holden was a family man with a pregnant wife, a young son, and a pet Weimaraner when the dog nipped him on the hand during a June 2009 camping trip in Wales. He disinfected the small wound, but thought nothing more of it. Becoming feverish over the next few days, he sought treatment back home in Crewe, Cheshire. He was experiencing a number of complications due to sepsis. In July 2009, both of Damian's feet had to be amputated due to blood clots. In August, he suffered a swollen neck and heart complications caused by a fluid build-up in his chest. In September, all antibiotics were no longer effective and the sepsis was severe. "I realized at this point it was an incurable condition," said his doctor. "There were no surgical options. We had explored every possible medical treatment to exhaustion.'' Multiple organ failure followed, and Damian died in the intensive care unit at Leighton Hospital in September 2009. Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg recorded a verdict of accidental death. Damian Holden, 35, had suffered a rare inflammatory reaction to a virus in the dog's saliva.

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