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Kidney disease killed Herod, researcher says



Published: Sat, January 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Kidney disease killedHerod, researcher says

BALTIMORE -- King Herod, the bloodthirsty Judean ruler who reputedly tried to kill the infant Jesus, died an excruciating death, brought on by kidney disease and finished off by gangrene, a medical sleuth said Friday.

"It's a very unpleasant way to die," said Dr. Philip Mackowiak, the director of the Historical Clinicopathological Conference at the University of Maryland medical school.

At the annual conference, doctors apply their diagnostic skills to historical figures whose deaths have not been satisfactorily explained. Previous conferences concluded rabies killed Edgar Allan Poe and that the Roman emperor Claudius died from eating poisonous mushrooms.

Before his death in 4 B.C., Herod suffered an array of symptoms -- intense itching, painful intestinal problems, breathlessness, fever, swelling in the feet, convulsions and, finally, gangrene of the genitalia.

Peter Richardson, a religion professor at the University of Toronto, found the description of Herod's ailments in the writings of the first-century historian Flavius Josephus.

Fournier's gangrene, rare today, probably killed Herod, said Dr. Jan Hirschmann of the University of Washington medical school, who examined Herod's case history. The disease would have killed the king in a week or less.

The symptom of itching led Hirschmann to conclude Herod suffered from kidney disease. Itching might have led to the gangrene as well, causing Herod to scratch his skin and open it to infectious bacteria.

1 dead after explosionat New Jersey factory

WILLINGBORO, N.J. -- An explosion tore through a scrap metals factory Friday, killing one person and injuring more than a dozen others in an industrial park near Philadelphia.

John Carroll, Willingboro emergency management coordinator, confirmed the death at Hi-Temp Specialty Metals Inc.

Fourteen other people, some from neighboring buildings who complained of smoke inhalation, were treated at hospitals. One was in critical condition. No names were released.

Workers at the factory were cleaning a heavy metal called tantalum by running it through a series of acid baths when the blast tore through the factory about 9:30 a.m., said Rachel Hamilton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The acid bath involved nitric, hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, and sodium hydroxide, Hamilton said. Hydrochloric acid is on DEP's list of extraordinarily hazardous substances.

Multivehicle pileupkills 3 in Florida

NAPLES, Fla. -- A tractor-trailer slammed into a pickup and car on a foggy highway Friday morning, causing a pileup of as many as 27 vehicles that killed three people and injured at least 13 others.

The accident happened around 5 a.m. Friday near Naples on Alligator Alley, the major east-west thoroughfare in South Florida, officials said.

Authorities said the pileup was fog related. The road was closed in both directions and officials expected it would take about eight hours to clear the road.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a car carrier heading west started the accident when it hit a car and pickup, which was pushed into the eastbound lane, causing another crash.

Authorities said they did not know how serious the injuries were.

Alligator Alley is part of Interstate 75. Tamiami Trail, the only other cross-Everglades route in South Florida, also was temporarily shut down during Friday morning rush hour when a truck rolled over and blocked traffic.

Bombing in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia -- A bomb attached to a bicycle exploded in front of a restaurant across the street from a police station Friday, killing four policemen and a 5-year-old girl, and injuring 26 other people.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which came with the restaurant packed with noontime diners. But Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus blamed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

"This shows the decision of the guerrillas to bring terrorism to a higher level ... and we have to prepare a response," Mockus said.

Police deactivated two other bombs, said police spokesman Sgt. Alberto Cantillo. One was on a parked bicycle near a police station in northern Bogota and another was in a western residential neighborhood.

Municipal health officials said 26 people were injured, including two babies, aged two months and four months.




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