Tag Archives: mckenna

McKenna on A. baumanii, the latest resistant bug

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

On her Superbug blog, AHCJ board member Maryn McKenna works her explanatory magic on Acinetobacter baumanii, a drug-resistant bug whose profile (and incidence) is, in McKenna’s words, “rocketing.”

A. baumanii is a nasty bug, causing not just wound infections but pneumonia, urinary tract infections, meningitis and bacteremia. Even more nasty, it collects resistance factors like baseball cards, and is commonly resistant to at least 4 antibiotic classes.

To make the outlook even bleaker, the antibiotic development pipeline for A. baumanii‘s class of bacteria has dried up and only super-toxic colistin can take out the nastiest strains of the bacteria. It looks like A. baumanii, whose resistant strains have spread explosively in the past decade, has a particular knack for spreading resistance.

The only real hope for containing A. baumanii, McKenna writes, may be cooperation between all the different local institutions in the fragmented American medical system.

Public health loses leading blogger

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Revere, the pseudonym behind the leading public health blog EffectMeasure, has announced that (he/she/they) will be hanging up the tri-cornered hat and passing the baton to The Pump Handle. While we have nothing but respect for The Pump Handle’s work, it’s sad to see Revere go. Revere’s farewell post has already attracted 85 comments, and AHCJ board member Maryn McKenna posted a eulogy on her SuperBug blog:

For more than 5 years now, Revere (a collective voice of an unknown number of public health experts — for simplicity, let’s say “he”) has been a reliable, thoughtful, expert, humorous and deeply knowledgeable guide to the intricacies of public health and public health politics.  …  And though few would admit it, Revere’s posts have been consistent agenda-setters in newsrooms all across the planet; insiders knew that, if Revere said something, it would start showing up in newspapers and on wires about 12 hours later.

AHCJ members talk H1N1, grade the media

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

AHCJ member Dr. Mona Khanna and AHCJ board member Maryn McKenna , along with New Hampshire state epidemiologist Dr. Jose Montero and host Laura Knoy discussed H1N1 and the media on New Hampshire Public Radio Wednesday. Debate centered on the media’s performance thus far, as well as the role that it ought to play during an outbreak or pandemic.

A few salient points from their key exchange:

Montero started things off by saying that health care journalists will be critical to public health efforts and will be relied upon to inform the public and provide context.

McKenna

McKenna

McKenna gave the media a “C” grade for their performance to date, with the explanation that, after round upon round of layoffs, there may not be enough expert journalists left to fulfill the public health role envisioned by Montero. “All the people who would be counted on to know this subject … most of those people don’t work in the media anymore,” McKenna said. “You can’t count on the media any more as the people who can put the breaks on alarmism.”

Khanna agreed, saying that even experienced health journalists sometimes lack key scientific understanding and should consult with scientists or medical professionals.