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.

Reporter uses FDA, USDA documents to find year’s biggest food recall

Photo: Victor Wong via Flickr

In 2018, salmonella, e. coli and listeria bacteria were the cause of a number of big food recalls – from romaine lettuce to Duncan Hines cake mix to ground beef.

These recalls got a lot of media attention, but the biggest recall of all in 2018 got little, according to Sam Bloch, a reporter for The New Food Economy, who wrote “The biggest food recall of 2018 is one you still haven’t heard about.” Continue reading

Zika still a threat in Puerto Rico, but government stopped tracking it

Photo: Ben Pender-Cudlip / The GroundTruth Project

The government of Puerto Rico has reported no cases of people with the Zika virus since early 2017, which might lead pregnant women to believe the Zika threat has faded, but investigative reporter Beth Murphy found a very different story in 2018. The Zika virus is still carried by mosquitoes on the island, and pregnant women remain at serious risk.

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Imperative for covering climate change as health issue

The rising temperature of the earth – climate change – is already causing serious challenges to people’s health, from worsening heart disease and asthma to increasing risks of emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance, two public health experts told AHCJ members.

However, many journalists have yet to make the connection between the warming climate and public health. Continue reading

Media played helpful role in communicating risks during Zika outbreak

Photo: CDCAedes aegypti

The news media, for the most part, played a helpful role in communicating the known health risks of the Zika virus to the public during the 2015-16 outbreak, in comparison to the Ebola outbreak two years earlier, according to a set of studies that were published in a special December 2018 issue of the journal “Risk Analysis.”

The group of studies, titled “Communicating Zika,” looked at how the understanding of Zika developed, how Zika risks were translated to the media and how the media’s coverage shaped public perceptions of the virus. Continue reading

Persistence, persuasion pays off with critical global health security story

Photo: M M via FlickrLive poultry market in Xining, China.

Ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China are having an impact on the global economy and potentially U.S. biosecurity.

Late in the summer of 2018, New York Times reporter Emily Baumgaertner authored a story breaking the news that China had stopped providing samples of a flu virus – named H7N9 – with U.S. health authorities. The H7N9 bird flu [the influenza virus is named with H’s and N’s based on their protein makeup] has been circulating in China since 2013 and has spread through poultry farms. Continue reading

Researchers study Rift Valley fever as climate change expands risks

Photo: ninaraCrescent Island Game Park in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

Could another seemingly obscure mosquito-borne disease that formerly existed mostly in Africa spread around the globe like the Zika virus?

Scientists say climate change increases that risk. With warming temperatures, mosquitoes carrying diseases are more abundant and are spreading to farther regions of the world. For journalists looking for stories about climate change and public health, infectious disease is a rich area for exploration. Continue reading