Category Archives: Infectious diseases

In covering Ebola outbreak this time, some lessons to remember

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.

Photo: NIAID via Flickr

Ebola is back in the news again with the evolving outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Could the virus come to the United States again?

Given that every disease is now just a plane ride away it certainly could, although the odds are low. Global health workers are responding to the outbreak aggressively.

The unfolding events in the DRC however, are a reminder that reporters – like public health officials – should be prepared for the next infectious disease threat. Continue reading

Understanding how to report on surveillance programs

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Surveillance is the process or system for tracking cases of risk factors, medical conditions, disease cases, adverse events, etc.

It is often used to track incidence of a disease, such as keeping up with where measles cases are during an outbreak or where remaining polio cases are in the attempt to eradication the disease. It’s also used to track prevalence, such as the total number of women living with breast cancer, or adverse events, such as tracking hospital-acquired infections or possible side effects from vaccines or drugs that the FDA has already licensed. Continue reading

Free online courses from CDC, WHO and NIH can enhance medical research reporting

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

By Dr.Farouk via Wikimedia Commons

In a previous post, I discussed how journalists can use MOOCs — Massive Online Open Courses — to broaden or deepen their knowledge of topics they cover. There also is a lengthy list of MOOCs specific to individual beats available on the AHCJ website. Continue reading

Want to up your game on covering clinical studies? Try a MOOC!

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

As you report on medical studies more and more, you probably start to notice patterns in the parts that you find confusing or difficult to parse. You start to realize where you need the most help in understanding a study, or perhaps you know you need to refine your skills but aren’t sure how.

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are a great way to sharpen some skills and learn some new ones. Continue reading

Tell stories about lab rats on the radio

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.

A cup of coffee with a former journalist colleague led Rhode Island radio reporter Lynn Arditi down the path of reporting on “superbugs,” the term for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Arditi’s former colleague was working for LifeSpan, a large Rhode Island health system, and pitched her the story of a study authored by one of its lead researchers and infectious diseases specialists. The study was about the discovery of a set of compounds that could become a new class of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant bacteria. Continue reading