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.

Use caution when reporting on pandemic potential of Wuhan coronavirus

Photo: Let Ideas Compete via Flickr Wearing medical masks to help prevent disease is common throughout China and the rest of Asia.

The novel coronavirus from China that had infected at least 634 people as of early today has led some media to report about the potential of a pandemic.

Reporters localizing the story for their audiences should be able to answer these questions: When does an infectious disease outbreak become a pandemic, and is it likely with this virus? How worried should Americans be? Continue reading

Reporter looks at how diseases of poverty flourish in the U.S.

Photo: Bill Rix via Flickr

Neglected tropical diseases, a group of parasitic, bacterial and viral infectious diseases that primarily affect the poorest countries in the world, also can spread in some of the most impoverished communities in the United States.

Vice News reporter Arielle Duhaime-Ross brought attention to this little known fact in “Scientists think Alabama’s sewage problem has caused a tropical parasite. The state has done little about it,” which won the National Association of Science Writers’ 2019 Science in Society Journalism Award. Continue reading

What is known about the mysterious pneumonia outbreak in China

Wuhan is about 200 miles south of Beijing and is a major transportation hub in the country.

Wuhan is about 200 miles south of Beijing and is a major transportation hub in China.

On New Year’s Eve, an infectious disease story emerged from China involving a mysterious pneumonia that has sickened dozens and raised alarm bells across Asia.

While the Chinese government says the outbreak, which began on Dec. 12, hasn’t resulted in any deaths, the strange illnesses are a cause of concern because China was the epicenter of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003. SARS sickened 3,100 people and killed 774 in 37 countries in less than a year. Continue reading

Tips for covering the latest news about antimicrobial resistance

Drug resistant pseudomonas aeruginosa

Photo: CDCDrug resistant pseudomonas aeruginosa

The danger of antibiotic resistance became clearer in November with the release of new figures showing that antibiotic resistance is among the top ten causes of mortality in the U.S.

This information is a news hook for all kinds of follow-up stories, from examining the effectiveness of local hospital antibiotic stewardship programs, to parenting articles on the potential dangers of antibiotics to children as we enter the winter season. Continue reading

U.S. vaccine safety system needs greater visibility, webcast panelists say

PHOTO: SELF MAGAZINE VIA FLICKR

As state legislators have grappled with policies to address vaccine hesitancy, public health officials and journalists could do more to emphasize that the United States has a well-established and effective vaccine safety surveillance system, policy experts told AHCJ members during a Nov. 21 webcast.

The U.S. engages several agencies and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the National Academy of Medicine, plus eight health care systems and seven academic hospitals in monitoring vaccine safety. Continue reading

Deregulation of pork production highlights need to cover food safety

Photo: Anne Akers via Flkr

In late September 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized rules to deregulate the safety inspection process in pork production and to increase the slaughter of animals, despite the opposition of consumer advocates and several former agency officials.

The new rules allow company employees, rather than USDA inspectors, to determine which parts of meat with defects can be removed from the slaughter process. Companies, instead of USDA inspectors, also will be allowed to determine slaughter speeds, based on their ability to prevent fecal contamination. Continue reading