The ScienceBlogs Book Club

Mark Pendergrast writes: It’s time to wrap up this ScienceBlog Book Club on my book, Inside the Outbreaks. I want to thank Liz Borkowski, Steve Schoenbaum, and Karen Starko for their excellent, insightful commentaries, and thanks too to those who commented here. I assume that you can continue to do so, and you can also…

In this post I want to address disease control opportunities for EIS officers, many of which are detailed in “Inside the Outbreaks: One of the first things we learned about on joining the EIS was John Snow’s determination that an outbreak of cholera in London was attributable to contamination of the water from the Broad…

Mark Pendergrast writes: Instead of responding to last week’s commentaries on this book club blog about my book, Inside the Outbreaks, I want to throw out a controversial idea that runs counter to what many public health commentators apparently believe. So I expect some disagreement here. (I will post responses to the commentaries as “comments”…

Karen Starko writes: Several basic questions related to Reye’s syndrome (RS) have come to me from readers of Mark’s book, Inside the Outbreaks. These show the importance of continued education on health issues. (For example, some physicians thought that fever was essential to getting RS). Again, thanks to Mark Pendergrast for a wonderful addition to…

Liz Borkowski writes: I wrote last week about how federal agencies can solve the problems that create conditions for disease outbreaks – or fail to solve them, as is too often the case. This week, I wanted to focus on the role Congress plays in public health agencies’ effectiveness, because that’s another angle that crops…

The Power of Comparison

Steve Schoenbaum writes: In his blog this week, Mark Pendergrast challenges someone/anyone to take on explaining the differences between case-control studies vs. cohort studies. As an EIS officer, back in late May/early June 1968, I did a case-control study as part of the investigation of a common source outbreak of hepatitis in Ogemaw County, Michigan,…

Karen Starko writes: When the “financial crisis” started and the news media started throwing around numbers in the trillions and projected fixes in the billions, I realized I just didn’t get it. So I got a little yellow post-it, labeled it “understanding trillions,” and started a list of examples. And when I learned that the…

Liz Borkowski writes: Mark Pendergrast wrote yesterday about how politics plays into the work of the EIS, and it’s something that I kept noticing as I read Inside the Outbreaks. As he points out, my post last week highlighted the solution to the Reye’s Syndrome puzzle – which was solved by Karen Starko, who’s also…

Mark Pendergrast writes: Thanks to commentators Liz Borkowski, Karen Starko, Steve Schoenbaum, and Mark Rosenberg for their thoughtful posts, though it appears that Mark Rosenberg’s post got cut off after his first-paragraph query asking why anyone would go into the field of public health. I will wait to respond to his post once I see…

Reading Between the Lines

Steve Schoenbaum writes: “Inside the Outbreaks”, Mark Pendergrast’s wonderful history of the Centers for Disease Control’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), can be read on many levels. I confess that as a former EIS officer (1967-1969), personally familiar with most of the “elite medical detectives” of the first few decades, I tended to read it “between…