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Bomb craters mean trouble for islanders

1:24pm, November 26, 2007

From Philadelphia, at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Mysterious skin infections that have plagued residents of the Micronesian island of Satowan are traceable to swimming in the stagnant waters that fill bomb craters left over from World War II, a study shows. Scientists have successfully treated these infections with antibiotics but are still trying to determine what the specific pathogen in these waters might be.

Japanese soldiers held tiny Satowan during the war, and U.S. bombing raids left craters that filled with water, expanding the island's mosquito population. The Japanese introduced nonnative fish called medaka (Oryzias latipes) into the freshwater ponds in hopes that the fish would eat the mosquito larvae.

Physician Vernon E. Ansdell of the University of Hawaii had heard about an affliction on Satowan known as "spam disease," marked by mottled rashes that resemble the canned-meat product. On a recent

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