As health officials in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo race to stop the spread of Ebola, one of many factors that could hinder their efforts is a so-called “outbreak culture” — a situation described in a new book co-authored by health journalist Lara Salahi.
Salahi and co-author Pardis Sabeti define outbreak culture as a collective mindset that develops among responders and communities in the initial response to disease outbreaks which can inhibit initial action and worsen the severity of an epidemic. 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
Reporters covering the flu season know it has been one of the most severe in the past decade. As of early February, the number of people who have visited a doctor due to the flu had exceeded the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Public health officials have known since last fall that this flu season was likely to be severe, yet the health system had trouble keeping up. Hospitals have been overwhelmed. There have been shortages of antivirals, IV saline bags and flu shots. Dozens of children have died.
What does that say about the U.S. health system’s readiness for handling infectious disease outbreaks? We are among the wealthiest nations in the world, and yet every year the health system has trouble convincing people to get the flu vaccine and has further difficulty caring for those who get ill. Continue reading
Graphic courtesy of HuffPostLauren Weber and her colleagues recently tracked the increase in hepatitis A cases across the country, noting surges beyond California. What started off as a simple map soon drove a larger story about a growing national crisis.
It was supposed to be a simple map. But what started as a small graphics project at HuffPost soon transformed into a revealing piece on the nation’s hepatitis outbreaks.
Writer and editor Lauren Weber, who also runs HuffPost’s The Morning Email, and her colleague had been following the outbreak in San Diego. They built up their sources and kept pressing for more information, soon connecting the dots to other outbreaks outside of the one in California that had made national headlines. Continue reading
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This year is starting off with one of the worst flu seasons in a decade. As of the week ended Jan. 27, the number of hospitalizations due to the flu is the highest it has been in nearly a decade, and flu activity has been as highest reported since the peak of the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the CDC said. The CDC was also quick to note that this outbreak isn’t a pandemic.
It is likely that flu won’t be the only outbreak in 2018. Over the past year, there was an outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil, plague in Madagascar, cholera in Yemen and measles in Minnesota. While no one knows what else might occur in 2018, there is likely to be another infectious disease outbreak somewhere in the world in the coming year. Continue reading
With no new cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in South Korea since July 2, the outbreak appears to have ended. Commentaries such as a recent Nature editorial are assessing the damage and the response – and the damage of the response.
In total, 186 people became sick with the virus and 36 died. Yet the response to the virus in South Korea shared something in common with the response to Ebola in the United States during the West African outbreak last year: It was over the top, largely because public officials have yet to master adequate risk communication. Continue reading