Author Archives: Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Influenza virus in China remains potential pandemic threat

Photo: Connie via Flickr

A strain of an influenza virus now circulating in China remains a potential pandemic threat while many gaps remain in preparing for such an event, a group of global health experts at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) warned last month.

The virus spreading in China, called H7N9 (flu virus names reflect their protein makeup) first emerged among poultry workers in 2013 and has sickened 1,567 people and killed 615. Continue reading

Consider the business angle when covering antibiotic resistance

Photo: NIAID via Flickr

In early October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Paratek Pharmaceuticals’ new antibiotic Nuzyra, which kills bacteria associated with skin and lung infections.

The approval was notable because there are so few new antibiotics coming onto the market, , says journalist Maryn McKenna in Wired magazine, largely because most drug companies don’t think antibiotics — which have wiped out the threat of many infectious diseases — to be worth the investment.

The problem is a unique business and policy dilemma for society. Continue reading

Public health experts suggest story ideas about rising STD rates

The number of recorded cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. is at historic levels as a result of decreased public health funding, lack of understanding about how STDs spread and less access to health care and screening, two public health experts told AHCJ members in a webcast on Nov. 1.

“There have never been more recorded cases of STDs in the U.S.,” said David C. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. “These numbers are shocking.” Continue reading

Increasing infectious disease outbreaks highlight need for public health reporting

Deadly infectious disease outbreaks are occurring more often around the world.

Influenza virus circulated in the southern hemisphere and then spread to the U.S., killing about 80,000 people during this past flu season – the most in decades. Monkeypox, a rare disease outside of Africa, was found in three people in the United Kingdom for the first time. Ebola has broken out once again in Africa.

HuffPost’s Lauren Weber says this trend is the reason why infectious diseases is a mainstay of her beat as a public health reporter and why she has been able to cover the Ebola outbreak from Washington, D.C. Continue reading

Assessing infectious disease risks and impact of social media

Photo: DFID-UK Department for International Development via Wikimedia

During an infectious disease outbreak, how does a journalist provide accurate information about risks to the public as the event is unfolding?

Explain what is known and unknown at the time about the threat, and put the risk in context to risks that people assume daily, suggests Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Continue reading

Reported incidents of rare polio-like illness in children are increasing

Infographic: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionClick through for the complete graphic.

In the coming weeks, it is likely that there will be more reported cases of a rare and mysterious condition called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which is causing paralysis in children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that it would begin posting on its website new counts of suspected and confirmed AFM cases on Monday afternoons. So far in 2018, the U.S. public health agency said there have been 127 suspected and 62 confirmed AFM cases in 22 states. About 90 percent of the cases have been in children age 18 and younger. In 2014, the agency saw an uptick in AFM cases; so far there have been 386 cases since that year.

Symptoms include sudden weakness or a loss of muscle tone in legs and arms.

Continue reading