Sep 20, 2010

Rapid Rhetoric: RANGIFERINE

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word or phrase I came across that I have never previously used.

rangiferine (rahn-gee-FAIR-een) adj. related to or like reindeer; belonging to the animal genus Rangifer; resembling a reindeer.

I stumbled upon the adjective rangiferine today while perusing a 2001 book entitled Infectious Diseases of Wild Mammals. Humans, it turns out, are prone to debilitating infection by all types of animal brucellosis, including rangiferine brucellosis. The disease typically can be found among reindeer and caribou in northern Canada, and the transmission between members of the genus Rangifer and humans is usually caused by ingestion of unsterilized milk or meat from infected animals.

Interestingly, the U.S. experimented with a variety of brucellosis bacteria known as B. suis as a potential biological weapon. B. suis became the first weaponized biological agent in its development at Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, but brucellosis did not prove to be deadly enough to warrant mass production. I suppose we will really be in serious trouble when (not if) biological weapons experts figure out a way to weaponize a disease like malignant Mesothelioma.

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