Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Robert Holdstock, author of 'Mythago Wood', passes away at age 61

I haven't read much of Robert Holdstock's fiction over the years, but I do remember reading 'Mythago Wood' back in 1986. It was a worthy read, all the more so for depicting the forest-bound, bronze-age Mythagos in all their rather dirty, briar-scratched, and unbathed glory. 'Mythago' was definitely one of the best fantasy novels published in the 80s.

According to this article in the Guardian, Robert Holdstock has passed away at age 61 of an infection with E. coli. He had evidently been ill since November 18, and died on November 29, 2009, after being placed in intensive care with multiple organ failure. Holdstock appears to have been in good health prior to being exposed to the E. coli, which makes his death all the more unexpected and unfortunate.

While it is unclear what strain of E. coli was responsible, it is quite probable that E. coli O157:H7, an 'enterohemorrhagic' strain historically associated with the consumption of rare hamburger meat,  spinach, sprouts, and other foods, may have been the culprit.

E. coli o157:H7 is a serious public health problem in Great Britain. Over the past few years outbreaks have taken place among fish n' chips shop patrons, consumers of lunch meat and  children visiting a petting zoo. Some of the more well-known patients include Elton John and Johnny Depp's daughter

What makes the infection difficult to combat is the fact that by the time many individuals are diagnosed, intervention with antibiotics may not be sufficient to prevent fatal damage to the kidneys and other organs. 

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