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.

Latest installment of Sentinel series highlights air travel’s role in spreading emerging infections

Photo: Neil Moralee via Flickr

Our connected world via air travel is one of the driving factors behind the globe’s vulnerability to a pandemic. An outbreak that begins in one part of the world now can move quickly to another region on an airplane, as was the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, swine flu in 2009 and Ebola in 2014.

The United States is at particular risk because there is not yet a national plan for preventing and containing the spread of communicable diseases aboard airplanes, according to a recent story for a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In this installment of an ongoing series, reporters Mark Johnson and McKenna Oxenden explored gaps in America’s emergency planning around air travel and infectious diseases. Continue reading

Covering HIV in the modern era: What reporters need to know

Image: Benny Sølz via Flickr

About 36.7 million people around the world – about 1.1 million in the U.S.- are living with an HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) diagnosis, making it one of the most enduring pandemics on the planet. HIV is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Since the virus was first discovered in the 1980s, about 35 million people have died from complications of AIDS.

There has been much progress in terms of treatment. There are now 30 antiretroviral drugs available for those diagnosed with HIV, writes Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, in the JAMA Network. Continue reading

Antibiotic resistance in food-poisoning bacteria on the rise

Photo: NIH Image Gallery via FlickrSalmonella bacteria invade an immune cell.

A report released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showed that an increasing number of Americans infected with the foodborne pathogen, salmonella, are resistant to multiple antibiotics.

In 2015, multidrug resistance rose to 12 percent of salmonella cases, from 9 percent the year before, the FDA said. Eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry or egg products can cause salmonella infection. Continue reading

Using data to tell a story about fighting anti-vaccine misinformation

In early October, the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry announced it planned to retract a study that had used altered data to conclude there was a link between aluminum adjuvants in vaccines and autism in mice, according to Retraction Watch.

Though it is good news the paper was retracted, the bad news is that such studies continue to be published, and fuel ongoing arguments within the anti-vaccine community that researchers are covering up evidence of links between autism and vaccines, says Timothy Caulfield, author of the new book The Vaccination Picture. Continue reading

Speakers offer perspective, story ideas on pandemic flu

Image: NIAID via FlickrColorized transmission electron micrograph showing H1N1 influenza virus particles.

Population explosion, ease of travel and factory farming of animals are all reasons that a flu pandemic – a fast-spreading, contagious flu with high mortality – is inevitable, public health experts said during an Oct. 10 AHCJ webcast on pandemic preparedness.

“What is the possibility of a pandemic? It’s absolute. It will happen,” said webcast participant Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “Are we ready? The bottom line is that we are not.” Continue reading