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.

How state disease detectives track and prevent spread of STDs

CDC/ Sarah Bailey Cutchin

As sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, have surged 31 percent over the past five years, states are relying more than ever on disease detectives to halt that spread.

These detectives are called “disease intervention specialists.” They are trained to track down and counsel people who have been diagnosed with STDs and anyone they have had intimate contact with. The aim is to ensure everyone is tested and treated, preventing anyone else from getting the STD. Continue reading

Tip sheet offers sources to debunk claims linking immigrants to infectious diseases

Photo: BBC World Service via Flickr

President Trump, along with immigration opponents, repeatedly assert that immigrants are bringing infectious diseases to the U.S., but never provide any data to back up their claims.

That is because virtually every public health expert says there isn’t any evidence that this is the case. Continue reading

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