Intended for healthcare professionals

Minerva Minerva


BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 14 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:970

Minerva was never able to detect ketones on a patient's breath, even when others recognised the characteristic smell from the end of the bed. A small sample of health workers who were tested on their odour discrimination also had trouble with acetone, often mistaking it for alcohol (Academic Emergency Medicine 2000;7:1168-9). It's equally difficult to distinguish wintergreen from camphor, although probably less clinically important. Participants' poor performance improved slightly on a retest, but only on uncommon smells.

Australian surgeons performed 7887 lower limb amputations in people with diabetes between 1995 and 1998, an average of 13.97 per 100 000 total population (Medical Journal of Australia 2000; 173:352-4). The national diabetes strategy aims to reduce these figures by half by the year 2005, partly by making sure that at least four fifths of people with diabetes get their feet looked at by a doctor once a year.

Raccoons may be cute, but many of them carry raccoon roundworm, an ascarid that can infect children. One 11 month old boy was left severely brain damaged after raccoon roundworm encephalitis ( A close look in his back garden and an adjoining vacant lot revealed 21 raccoon toilet sites, all of which contained fecal …

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