Jim Henson Biography  http://www.henson.com/

On May 16,1990 Henson died of a rare bacterial infection. ... The Importance of Jim Henson by Deanne Durrett The Art of the Muppets by Henson Associates ...

Jim Henson - Muppet Wiki

He hosted Jim Henson Hour pitch tape and The Secrets of the Muppets. ... He died at 1:21 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16, 1990, approximately 20 hours after ...

Henson became infected with an extremely rare bacterium called Group A streptococcus in May 1990 that was discovered too late for him to receive proper treatment. He died at 1:21 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16, 1990, approximately 20 hours after checking himself into the emergency room at New York Hospital, not realizing how sick he really was.

Was something else going on too?  http://www.valdezlink.com/re/thecfidsview.htm



How can a healthy man in his 50s succumb so abruptly to a garden-variety illness like pneumonia? To Dr. Edward Kaplan, an authority on streptococcal infections, Jim Henson's death was tragic but not unfamiliar. The organism that killed Henson, Group A streptococcus bacteria, is not rare, but it can occasionally cause an overwhelming infection that is unusually virulent. Studies suggest a recent unexpected increase in serious infections caused by the bacteria, which is highly deceptive: Early on, Group A strep can be mistaken for mere flu, but before a victim has even sought treatment, it may overwhelm the body with pneumonia, kidney failure or liver failure, A professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and director there of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Streptococci, Kaplan, 54 (below), spoke about Group A infections with correspondent Margaret Nelson.

Just what is Group A streptococcus?

It is one of an enormous variety of streptococcal bacteria. Group A streptococci cause a number of diseases, from mild ones like impetigo to serious illnesses like scarlet fever. It is almost always associated with strep throat, and it is the only kind of streptococcus that causes rheumatic fever.

How is the Group A bacteria contracted?

It is usually inhaled, but it can get into the body through a cut or abrasion. Once there, it likes to live in the respiratory tract, especially in the throat.

How often is it deadly?

We don't know. We don't have exact figures because doctors are not required to report strep diseases. We know only that Group A strep is a very rare cause of pneumonia. Lately, however, there has been evidence of a more virulent type, a meaner bacteria. One of the first reports appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine last July. Of the 20 cases discussed, there was a 30 percent mortality rate, which is very high compared to most common forms of pneumonia. But I don't want to be an alarmist. This is a very rare disease.

What are the common symptoms?

They may be flu-like or they may begin like a typical strep throat, with quick onset of fever, sore throat, perhaps nausea and vomiting. In those rare instances when the infection becomes more serious, it may involve other parts of the body within a day or so. Patients may go into shock and develop problems with the lungs, kidneys and liver and infections of the muscles. Once the bacteria gets a toehold, therapy may become more difficult even with large doses of antibiotics.

This bacteria seems a more virulent one," says Kaplan, in his Minnesota lab.

Since the first symptoms may be relatively mild, when should one seek medical care? It's true, at first there may not be much that distinguishes a Group A infection from a bad case of the flu. But people should use common sense. If you suddenly become very ill—high fever, sore throat—seek medical care.

What is the treatment?

First, to identify the infectious agent, usually through a throat culture. If it is Group A, an antibiotic, probably penicillin, is prescribed. A patient who is only mildly ill can expect to feel better in a few days. The penicillin also reduces the risk of rheumatic fever or other complications. With the more serious Group A infection, antibiotics are also used, often intravenously, but other medical and surgical therapies may be required.

Are children especially vulnerable to strep?

Strep throat has been called an occupational disease of schoolchildren. If you went into any schoolroom in the winter and did throat cultures, 5 percent to 20 percent of the children would have it, with or without any symptoms. In the past few decades parents may have become a little complacent about strep throat because there have been so few complications. But these things tend to go in cycles, and they're beginning to increase again despite antibiotics. We don't know all the reasons why.

People Weekly, "Legacy of a Gentle Genius" by Susan Schindehette, June 18, 1990


Group A Streptococcus


Group A Streptococcus comprises a number of strains of bacteria that can produce a wide range of illnesses. Some, like "strep throat" and impetigo, are quite common and easily treated. Others, including those referred to as invasive disease, are more rare and require immediate medical attention.

Common Strep Illnesses

  • "Strep throat," the most common illness caused by this bacteria, is easily treated with a 10-day course of conventional antibiotics, usually penicillin. If left untreated or partially treated, however, it can be followed by rheumatic fever, which may result in permanent damage to the heart valves. Rheumatic fever, currently a rare disease, may occur when patients do not complete a full course of antibiotics to treat strep throat.
  • Impetigo is the second most frequent illness caused by group A bacteria. This is a mild skin infection accompanied by open, draining sores. Complications are rare. It is easily treated with common antibiotics.
  • Scarlet fever is characterized by a fever, sore throat, red sandpaper-like rash and a red "strawberry" tongue. It is caused by several different strains of the streptococcal bacteria, all of which produce a toxin that causes the characteristic red rash. It is treated in the same manner as strep throat.
  • Rare and more serious, glomerulonephritis is a complication of streptococcal infections, usually strep throat or impetigo. Antibiotic treatment of the original infection does not necessarily prevent the condition, which usually resolves itself.

Invasive Infections

Certain strains of group A bacteria can lead to several forms of invasive disease, including pneumonia, meningitis, infection of the bone and an illness resembling toxic shock syndrome. Relatively uncommon, these streptococcal diseases first caught the public's notice in the late 1980s, when published reports in medical journals began to draw attention to them. The death of Muppet creator Jim Henson in 1990 as a result of an aggressive strep infection brought more visibility. In 1994, focus moved to the strain of group A Streptococcus causing necrotizing fasciitis.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

Necrotizing fasciitis is the medical term for a serious skin and muscle infection caused by certain strains of group A Streptococcus. These bacteria produce an enzyme that destroys tissue. While it occurs in less than 10 percent of the patients who develop an invasive group A infection, it can be fatal in 20 percent to 30 percent of these cases.

If necrotizing fasciitis does develop, it is usually in the wake of a skin wound that has allowed the bacteria to enter the body. The bacteria multiply in the wound and produce a toxic substance that kills skin, muscle tissue and the membrane covering the muscles. Not everyone infected with the bacteria will become ill, although the reason for this is unknown.

As is the case with other strains of group A Streptococcus, those that cause necrotizing fasciitis are treated with common antibiotics, although not necessarily the same ones used to treat milder diseases. Because of the extensive tissue damage associated with this kind of infection, physicians sometimes combine a regimen of antibiotics with the surgical removal of severely damaged skin and muscle tissue.

Illinois Department of Public Health - Group A Streptococcus

I suspect the flu is a chemical exposure that causes one's body to go autoimmune.
It would cause fever, and allow any bacteria to go wild as the BUTYL chemical attacks one's liver and kidneys

I was wondering what Jim Henson was doing when 'flu symptoms' started
and whether or not it was the BUTYL exposure that caused his death

Did he have blood in urine?
Were his red blood cells ragged and beat up?

a bad case of the flu
The flu is a chemical exposure, not a virus as is commonly thought


The Proper View of CFIDS, CFS, FM, ME

Our Nation has a Wrong View of Health Care


the real health issue for vets, for VP, for Pres Gerald Ford

Not agent orange, but EGBE, the propellant


Pres Gerald Ford in 2006 ... too?


I spoke before Advisory Committee for Gulf War Vets

Edward L. Kaplan, M.D.


Professor, Epidemiology
Head, World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Streptococci 
Mayo Mail Code 296

Phone: (612) 624-1112
Fax: (612) 626-2467

Dr. Kaplan is Professor in the Divisions of Pediatric Infectious Disease and of Pediatric Cardiology, and is an internationally recognized authority in his field.  As Head of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Streptococci, Dr. Kaplan is primarily interested in the study of group A streptococcal infections and their sequelae.  Currently, the laboratory addresses the epidemiology, microbiology, immunology of group A streptococcal applied research.  Laboratory opportunities have concentrated on understanding more comprehensively the shifting prevalence of group A streptococcal strains and their M serotypes (emm types when genotyped) by correlation of classical laboratory techniques for characterizing group A streptococci with newer molecular techniques, such as using DNA sequencing of the N terminus or variable region of the M protein.  His laboratory is an active participant in an international network of reference laboratories focusing on group A streptococcal infections as well as their sequelae.  Currently, active clinical laboratory collaborations between his laboratory and other countries include those in Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, Egypt, North Africa, and South America.  A program to further delineate possible genetic predisposition to development of rheumatic fever has been carried out in collaboration with the Post-graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research in India.  With these major collaborations, his laboratory has received many post-graduate students for training in applied research and laboratory techniques.  Some of our trainees who have studied in his laboratory have coordinated their research training with obtaining a Master’s Degree in the School of Public Health.  In collaboration with the University of Rochester, the lab focuses on tic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorders occurring in associated with streptococcal infection.

Mailing Address
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
University of Minnesota
420 Delaware St SE
MMC 296
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Phone: (612) 624-1112  
Fax: (612) 624-8927