Category Archives: Public health

Last year’s flu season death toll and 2018-19 flu coverage

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: Leonie via Flickr

In last year’s flu season, 80,000 people died, including 180 children, and 900,000 people were hospitalized, making it the worst flu season in 40 years – underscoring the importance of seasonal flu coverage for every public health reporter.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield unveiled the figures first during an interview with the Associated Press on Sept. 26. CDC officials confirmed the figures at a news briefing at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Sept. 27. Continue reading

Get ready for the flu season with some new angles for coverage

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: NHS Employers via Flickr

As summer ebbs, influenza season is around the corner. Public health officials are beginning their annual campaign to urge people to get a flu shot long before cases begin to peak in January or February.

So what’s new for journalists to write about this year? Take a look at what happened last flu season and at some new data showing that flu vaccination may also reduce the chances of heart attacks and stroke, especially in those 65 or older. Continue reading

Investigator, researcher share tips on how to cover suicide

Valarie Basheda

About Valarie Basheda

Valarie Basheda, director of news and special projects at WebMD, oversees WebMD’s original news, special reports, and blogs. Before joining WebMD, she worked as an editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Before that, she worked at the American Journalism Review, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.

Photo: Sonya CollinsTrebor Randle, special agent in charge of the Child Fatality Review Unit of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, shares Georgia-specific suicide rates and demographics.

Death by suicide is on the rise and is the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 39. In some cases, especially with children younger than 18, the media may shy away from covering these tragic deaths.

That’s not the correct approach, says Trebor Randle, special agent in charge with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Randle works in the Child Fatality Review Unit of the GBI. She investigates every case when a child dies by suicide under the age of 18. Continue reading

Don’t forget about Ebola survivors, researcher tells reporters

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: USAID via Flickr

While the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo was declared over by the World Health Organization in late July, Peter Halfmann, University of Wisconsin Influenza Research Institute associate professor and Ebola researcher, says journalists should keep covering the story in terms of its long-term impact on survivors. Continue reading

Summer can be deadly for older adults

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Olivia Notter via Flickr

Summertime and the living is easy – sometimes.

While most of us look forward to the warmer weather and participating in outdoor activities, summer is not always kind to older adults. Moreover, despite what seems like an annual warning about the dangerous effects of hot temperatures and poor air quality on seniors, there are still too many reports of older people hospitalized or dying from heat-related causes. That’s why it’s still a good idea to remind everyone that summertime isn’t always so easy.

Continue reading

Separated migrant children face infectious disease and other health threats

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: Hi Tricia! via Flickr

The thousands of children separated from their undocumented parents at the border have been exposed to prolonged stress that can cause long-lasting injury to the developing brain, say many prominent professional medical associations. The policy of taking children from their parents while they await deportation hearings – reversed on Wednesday – may have increased their chances of getting infectious diseases, too.

Dr. Marc Siegel wrote in USA Today that “thousands of children now being housed in makeshift detention centers have been reported to suffer from large outbreaks of scabies, a highly contagious, itchy rash spread by tiny insects known as mites.” There also have been reports of outbreaks of lice, measles, flu, drug-resistant tuberculosis, dengue fever and Zika, Siegel added. Continue reading