Associate Professor, lab rat (microbiologist/infectious disease epidemiologist) and occasional blogger, full-time nerd

Yambuku, Zaire, 1976. A new disease was spreading through the population. Patients were overcome by headaches and bloody diarrhea. The disease was spreading through entire families and wiping them out. Eight hundred and twenty-five kilometers to the northeast, a similar epidemic was reportedly raging across the border in Maridi, Sudan. Were these outbreaks connected? Despite…

Addressing more Ebola myths

For several days now, people have been quoting The Hot Zone* at me as a realistic account of an Ebola outbreak. Just…no. I have an article up today at mic.com addressing this and some more Ebola myths: Everything you know about Ebola is wrong.   *Entertaining as hell, but very over-dramatized.

Since yesterday’s post, several people have asked me on various social media outlets about the airborne nature of Ebola. Didn’t I know about this paper (“Transmission of Ebola virus from pigs to non-human primates“), which clearly showed that Ebola could go airborne? Indeed I do–I wrote about that paper two years ago, and it in…

It’s odd to see otherwise pretty rational folks getting nervous about the news that the American Ebola patients are being flown back to the United States for treatment. “What if Ebola gets out?” “What if it infects the doctors/pilots/nurses taking care of them?” “I don’t want Ebola in the US!” Friends, I have news for…

In the light of the current Ebola outbreak, I thought this post from 2007 was once again highly relevant.  As another Ebola outbreak simmers in Uganda (and appears to be increasing), I recently was in touch with Zoe Young, a water and sanitation expert with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF*, known in the US as Doctors without Borders), who was working…

I can hardly do Dr. William Foege justice with a short introduction. He is one of the scientists who led the global smallpox eradication efforts. He developed the concept of ring vaccination, which targeted vaccination to those individuals around a known case of smallpox. This concept really made eradication possible, as it eliminated the need for universal…

Eleven years ago, two scientists made a bet. One scientist wagered that a new type of antimicrobial agent, called antimicrobial peptides, would not elicit resistance from bacterial populations which were treated with the drugs. Antimicrobial peptides are short proteins (typically 15-50 amino acids in length) that are often positively charged. They are also a part of our…

Jasen Sokol show appearance

Perhaps because it’s college graduation and reunion time, L.V. Anderson at Slate has written a column entitled “People Still Say They ‘Went to College in Boston,’ Meaning Harvard? Please Stop Doing This.” She claims that by giving such an evasive answer, one “buy[s] into the overblown mythos of Harvard and the presumption of Ivy League superiority.”…