Tag Archives: who

Monkeypox experts to follow on social media

The monkeypox story has been evolving quickly this year, moving from a pathogen that wasn’t on the radar for most people to a global outbreak that led the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency on July 23.

To boost your reporting on this topic, use social media and create a Twitter list to help focus your coverage. Use the platform to contact experts for comment, a lesson I learned from covering COVID-19. 

In March 2020, I created a Twitter list of COVID-19 experts to help me cut through the clutter of voices on social media and shared it with AHCJ members. At that time (and frankly, this continues to be the case), there were many people on Twitter without training in infectious diseases, virology and immunology opining on what was happening. (See Tara Haelle’s post on how important it is to seek out people who specialize in infectious diseases, not just any physician)

Over the past two and a half years, I have added and removed names from the list depending upon the person’s social media presence. Overall, I have found it a helpful lens for understanding what is going on as the pandemic has evolved.

This week, I created another Twitter list for covering monkeypox. There is a crossover of experts between the COVID-19 and monkeypox list, as the world of trusted infectious disease experts who are also helpful on social media isn’t huge. I also may have missed people that should be on the list, so please send a note (Email me at bara@healthjournalism.org) if I have missed someone. 

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Clearing the air on a WHO study

Last week, I encountered yet another example of why it’s so important to always read the whole study — not just the press release. In this case, it was actually a report, not a study. A press release from Alzheimer’s International with the somewhat misleading headline, “Smoking Increases Risk Of Dementia” arrived in my inbox, citing a new World Health Organization report that put smokers at a 45 percent higher risk for developing the disease than non-smokers.

When I opened the report, I learned that the “news” touted in the press release was actually just a summary of old research. There was nothing new here. Nor was there proof of causation – the cited evidence showed associations.

As I looked more closely at the report, I found an error that appeared to undermine its conclusions and suggest a sloppiness and lack of rigor.

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A world of vaccine requirements in one database

The country that requires its citizens to be vaccinated with the highest number of distinct antigens (Italy, 26) just happens to completely surround one of the countries that requires the fewest (San Marino, 5), a fact which is probably useless for anything other than demonstrating how nifty and flexible the World Health Organization’s vaccine database is.

Their interface isn’t ideal, but you can get all the data in spreadsheet form as well, and from there it’s easy to import into your favorite database software. In addition to antigen and country, the database also includes information on the recommended vaccine schedule and, when applicable, the parts of the country where each vaccine is required.


It’s an interesting way to put the American vaccine debate, and global public health efforts, in context. The numbers are a little misleading — some antigens seem very similar, or used only in small areas — but the broad strokes are still enlightening. The Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine, for the record, is a reasonably effective tuberculosis vaccine.


(Hat tip to Madison Park at CNN’s health blog)

AHCJ has resources for World Tuberculosis Day

In honor of World Tuberculosis Day, an awareness day organized by the Stop TB Partnership, here’s a roundup of the latest in TB as well as some handy background information.

AHCJ New York City Metro chapter’s discussion on TB as a global health problem: Discussion covered all strains of tuberculosis and considered the root socioeconomic causes of the disease. The article is accompanied by audio from expert presentations given at the meeting, as well as copies of the presentations themselves.  Article by Sibyl Shalo, presenters included Chrispin Kambili, M.D., (assistant commissioner and director, Bureau of Tuberculosis Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene), Donald J. McNeil Jr. (science and health reporter for The New York Times), Lee Reichman, M.D., M.P.H., (executive director, New Jersey Medical School Global Tuberculosis Institute), Mel Spigelman, M.D., (president and CEO, Tuberculosis Alliance) and Janice Hopkins Tanne (journalist and co-author with Reichman of “Timebomb: The Global Epidemic of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis”).

Decrease in Reported Tuberculosis Cases
From the CDC’s weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report

Read it because: It’s a comprehensive summary of the present state of TB in America, packed with stats and even a little analysis.

Key paragraph:

For 2009, a total of 11,540 tuberculosis cases were reported in the United States. The TB rate was 3.8 cases per 100,000 population, a decrease of 11.4% from the rate of 4.2 per 100,000 reported for 2008. The 2009 rate showed the greatest single-year decrease ever recorded and was the lowest recorded rate since national TB surveillance began in 1953.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis now at record levels
From the World Health Organization
Read it because: It’s 71 pages (the important stuff begins on page 13) of statistics, research and anecdotes covering drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis worldwide.

Key paragraph:

… it is estimated that 440 000 people had MDR-TB worldwide in 2008 and that a third of them died. In sheer numbers, Asia bears the brunt of the epidemic. Almost 50% of MDR-TB cases worldwide are estimated to occur in China and India. In Africa, estimates show 69 000 cases emerged, the vast majority of which went undiagnosed.

And, some quick fact sheets:

World Health Organization TB resources
NIH: Definitions of different TB strains
NIH: Roundup of current TB research efforts
CDC tuberculosis resources

WHO: Half of road deaths are non-motorists

Almost half of the folks killed in traffic accidents annually are cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists, according to the World Health Organization’s first status report on global road safety.


Photo by kbrookes via Flickr

The report also includes breakdowns of laws and statistics by country, including information on drinking and driving laws, helmet requirements and child-safety regulations.

Individual country profiles begin on page 60 of the PDF and are alphabetical. Stats for the United States are on page 228 and stats for the United Kingdom are on page 226.

According to the U.S. profile, 51 percent of deaths are drivers of “4-wheelers.” Pedestrians make up 11 percent of fatalities and cyclists make up 2 percent. And 32 percent of road traffic deaths involve alcohol.