• Perspective: The Plague The Real Reason to Panic About China’s Plague Outbreak

    The Chinese government’s response to this month’s outbreak of plague has been marked by misguided emphasis on the wrong things. Laurie Garrett writes that rather than focusing on the germs and their spread, the Chinese government appeared to be more concerned with public relations and the management of public reaction to the disease.

  • Perspective: The PlaguePhylogeography of the Second Plague Pandemic Revealed Through Analysis of Historical Yersinia Pestis Genomes

    The second plague pandemic (14th-18th centuries) began with the Black Death in the mid-14th century and continued with lethal outbreaks in and around Europe until the 18th century. The pandemic devastated the European continent, killing up to 60 percent of the population. Where did this strain of Yersinia pestis, the plague-causing bacterium, come from? How did it evolve and expand once it arrived?

  • Public healthAI Model Wins Flu Forecasting Challenge

    A probabilistic artificial intelligence computer model developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory provided the most accurate state, national and regional forecasts of the flu in 2018, beating 23 other teams in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FluSight Challenge.

  • Perspective: Epidemics“Working in Silos Doesn’t Work for Outbreak Response”: Localizing Social Science Response Efforts in West Africa

    Despite the deployment of new tools, such as vaccines and experimental treatments, to fight the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the contextual complexity has made it extremely challenging for local and international response partners to implement standard Ebola containment strategies. These challenges have contributed both to the growth and spread of the outbreak, and to a very dangerous and dynamic environment for those working in the response. Various international organization supporting the fight against the epidemic say they are committed to design future outbreak response which would be more sensitive to the needs and perspectives of local communities. To support this, social science has been identified as a necessary outbreak ‘discipline’ alongside epidemiology, clinical medicine, microbiology, and public health to help ensure that outbreak response is designed in locally appropriate ways.

  • PerspectiveThe Presidential Candidates Are Ignoring One of the World’s Biggest Looming Threats

    Whoever sits in the Oval Office come January 2021, he or she will almost inevitably have to address pandemic disease as a foreign-policy issue. The well-being of Americans in today’s globalized world is inextricably linked to that of people around the globe, while the effects of pandemics are born disproportionately by the least powerful. The next U.S. president needs a proactive strategic initiative, based in global solidarity, to address today’s pandemics, tomorrow’s outbreaks, and the health impacts of climate change.

  • Preventable diseasesClose-Knit, Vaccine-Reluctant Communities Stoked Measles: CDC

    From 1 January to 1 October of this year, the United States tracked 22 measles outbreaks and 1,249 cases, according to a new overview published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). “Eight outbreaks —defined as three or more related cases — that occurred in underimmunized, close-knit communities accounted for 85 percent of all cases,” the CDC said. And 75 percent of all cases in 2019 were part of outbreaks among Orthodox Jewish populations in New York State and City.

  • Perspective: PandemicsEbola One Year on: The Wins, the Setbacks, and the Way Forward

    The last five years have witnessed the two biggest outbreaks of Ebola, first in West Africa and currently in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC is no stranger to Ebola and has battled the virus on nine previous occasions since 1976. The current outbreak, for a multitude of socio-political reasons, refuses to give in to efforts by an international team of health care workers, armed with vaccines and treatment regimes, which did not even exist during previous episodes. As the outbreak surpasses its one year mark, the virus has infected over 3000 people and claimed more than 2000 lives.

  • Perspective: PandemicsThe World Knows an Apocalyptic Pandemic Is Coming

    A new independent report compiled at the request of the United Nations secretary-general warns that there is a “very real threat” of a pandemic sweeping the planet, killing up to 80 million people. A deadly pathogen, spread airborne around the world, the report says, could wipe out almost 5 percent of the global economy. And we’re not ready. Laura Garrett writes that twenty-five years ago, in 1994, she published her book on the subject, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance, arguing that human disruption of the global environment, coupled with behaviors that readily spread microbes between people and from animals to humans, guaranteed a global surge in epidemics, even an enormous pandemic. She writes that epidemic outbreaks were aided and abetted by inept health systems, human behavior, and the complete lack of consistent political and financial support for disease-fighting preparedness everywhere in the world. Will the UN report’s warning be heeded now?

  • PandemicsWorld Unprepared for Pandemic: WHO

    The next deadly pandemic could spread within thirty-six hours, disrupt economies and destabilize national security, WHO and World Bank experts have said. The experts said current efforts to manage a pandemic are “grossly insufficient.” Epidemic-prone viral diseases such as Ebola, SARS, and the flu have become increasingly difficult to control, as long-term armed conflicts, forced migration, and weak and failed states become more commonplace in the world, the report warned.

  • PandemicsOver 3,000 Killed by Deadly Virus in Democratic Republic of the Congo This Year – and It’s Not Ebola

    By Jeremy Rossman and Matthew Badham

    Ebola outbreaks, such as the current one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has claimed 2,074 people’s lives, are widely covered in the media. But another virus is ravaging the DRC with minimal publicity. That virus is measles.

  • Public healthWHO Declares Ebola Outbreak in Congo an Emergency of “International Concern”

    The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo a “public health emergency of international concern.” “It is a measure that recognizes the possible increased national and regional risks and the need for intensified and coordinated action to manage them,” said the WHO in a statement.

  • Considered opinion: Pandemics & disinformationWe must prepare for the next pandemic

    By Bruce Schneier

    When the next pandemic strikes, it will likely be accompanied by a deluge of rumors, misinformation and flat-out lies that will appear on the internet. Bruce Schneier writes that “Pandemics are inevitable. Bioterror is already possible, and will only get easier as the requisite technologies become cheaper and more common. We’re experiencing the largest measles outbreak in twenty-five years thanks to the anti-vaccination movement, which has hijacked social media to amplify its messages; we seem unable to beat back the disinformation and pseudoscience surrounding the vaccine. Those same forces will dramatically increase death and social upheaval in the event of a pandemic.”

  • EbolaEbola outbreak spreads to Uganda – it should never have happened

    By Sterghios Moschos

    The DRC is where the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. And the country is no stranger to this menace – this is the ninth time it has had to contain the disease. Still, this outbreak is the second largest on record – and the second to have crossed into another country.

  • 1918 flu pandemicPossible European origin of the Spanish Influenza

    What happens when a military historian and a virologist get together to discuss the 1918 pandemic? What you get is a fascinating insight into a possible European origin and all sorts of things we may have overlooked.

  • Public healthStatistical model helps predict future disease outbreaks

    Researchers have created a statistical method that may allow public health and infectious disease forecasters to better predict disease reemergence, especially for preventable childhood infections such as measles and pertussis.