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Climate Change: Communicating Complexity

Categories: General

 

Cracked desert landscape

The influence of weather on infectious diseases has been recognized for centuries. In our own experience, we know that some diseases like influenza are more common in the winter or others thrive better in the tropics. The effects of climate – weather over long periods of time – on infectious diseases have been getting a lot of attention lately. I was recently interviewed for a Focus Earth episode on infectious diseases and climate change. The introductory clip frames a debate between a calculated scientific position for the impact on individual infectious disease versus broad generalizations about global warming. It makes for great television and offers an opportunity to educate and engage the public about the health impact of climate change. In this case, both positions are true but highlight the difficulties in communicating the complexity of health effects from climate change – especially when we try to isolate the effects of climate from other biologic, ecologic, or social changes that lead to changes in infectious diseases.

Advanced Lab Techniques Help Pinpoint the Source of Outbreaks

Categories: Disease Investigation

These are the tools used in multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeats analysis (MLVA), a technique that has the potential to identify subtle differences at the genetic level between closely related bacterial strains.

These are the tools used in multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeats analysis (MLVA), a technique that has the potential to identify subtle differences at the genetic level between closely related bacterial strains.

When CDC is working on an outbreak of foodborne illness, it’s our goal to pinpoint the source as quickly and precisely as possible so we can prevent any further threat to public health. For several years now, the PulseNet Methods Development and Reference Unit (PMDRU) has been developing and validating new methods to complement pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), which is currently the standard typing method used in outbreak detection. The method that we have found most helpful in detecting subtle differences between closely related bacterial strains is a technique known as multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA).

Cookie Dough – Gooey, Sweet, and Seasoned with… Bacteria?!

Categories: Foodborne

3 magnetic beads about 5 microns in diameter.

The possibility that E. coli O157:H7 was a contaminant in cookie dough surprised even the most experienced microbiologists here in CDC’s Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch. E. coli O157 is a common culprit of a severe diarrheal illness, usually caused by eating contaminated and undercooked ground beef or drinking unpasteurized apple juice. It shouldn’t have even been on the “Who’s Who” list of the top bacterial contaminants.

The Fit Between Wildlife Health and Human Health

Categories: Zoonotic Disease

Wildlife Disease Association's logo

“Wildlife Health from Land to Sea: Impacts of a Changing World.” That was the theme of the 58th annual meeting of the Wildlife Disease Association, held earlier this month. I had the pleasure of attending this conference along with several colleagues from the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-borne, and Enteric Diseases (NCZVED).

Hepatitis B in Kuwait: Are Immunizations Making an Impact? Yes!

Categories: Prevention/Vaccination

a grayscale map singling out Kuwait in brown.

The Public Health Matters blog welcomes requests from its readers. Recently, a reader asked us to address the issue of Hepatitis B in Kuwait. Dr. Frank Mahoney, a CDC medical epidemiologist who has worked extensively in the Middle East, wrote this response:

Q Fever: The Good, the Bad, and the Underreported

Categories: Zoonotic Disease

APHL/EID Fellow Amanda Candee collecting environmental samples from a sheep pen in western Colorado. Sheep are a major reservoir for Coxiella burnetii.

APHL/EID Fellow Amanda Candee collecting environmental samples from a sheep pen in western Colorado. Sheep are a major reservoir for Coxiella burnetii.

Q fever is a disease caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii, which can be transmitted to humans from animals such as sheep, goats, and cattle. C. burnetii is considered a possible bioterrorism agent because it is quite hardy in the environment, infects people who breathe aerosols containing the organism, and has a very low infectious dose (one organism can cause disease in a susceptible person).

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