No matter what beats a journalist covered before 2020, nearly every one of us has had to write at least a bit about epidemiology over the past year. Some reporters were completely re-assigned to a COVID-19 beat without any previous experience in health or science journalism. Others may have already been writing about health and science but not spending much time in the areas of infectious diseases, vaccines and epidemiology. It’s been a steep and continuous learning curve for many — I’ve been covering epi for a decade and still learn something new at least once a week. Continue reading
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
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
Nearly 1,500 more epidemiologists are needed nationwide to sufficiently carry out public health duties, according to a survey of state epidemiologists earlier this year.
The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists has released its 2009 Epidemiology Capacity Assessment (PDF), intended to report on the “epidemiology capacity of state and territorial health departments in the United States, structured around the Ten Essential Services of Public Health” in eight areas: bioterrorism/emergency response, chronic diseases, environmental health, infectious diseases, injury, maternal and child health, occupational health, and oral health.
The analysis found that there are fewer epidemiologists resulting in a reduced capacity for surveillance and epidemiology – especially in the areas of bioterrorism and emergency response. It also reveals that a number of states lack the ability to perform several of the essential services of public health, that states are lacking in the technology to conduct surveillance and that many epidemiologists with high levels of training are leaving the public health sector.
The assessment is based on an online survey filled out by state epidemiologists or their delegates between April and July of 2009.
The 122-page report includes recommendations and an in-depth examination of the workforces, the functions that are in jeopardy, the funding sources for state health departments and more.
The CSTE Web site also has a handy directory of state epidemiologists that includes e-mail addresses.