Effect Measure

Archives for September, 2009

Swine flu: will modern medicine save us?

For the first time in medical history we may be seeing an influenza pandemic unfold in real time, but that doesn’t mean we know what we are seeing. There remains some uncertainty about virulence, both in terms of how often it kills and how it kills when it does kill. You’d think both would be…

Hand gel sanitizers are making an appearance all over our medical center. There’s one right next to the elevator on the ground floor of the building where my office is and don’t have to touch a thing. Just put your hand under it and it dispenses a cool alcohol-based gel that sanitizers my hands and…

A good story by the AP’s Lauran Neergaard yesterday highlighted the need for better public health surveillance and the efforts being made to improve it so as to keep track of possible rare side effects from the swine flu vaccine. This is an issue we’ve talked about a lot here, most recently in the context…

Swine flu vaccine summary at JustTheVax

We don’t do vaccines so much here, so I missed it last Sunday (Sept. 20) when it was posted over at JustTheVax, but there’s an excellent summary of this year’s swine flu vaccine offerings by Science Mom. It’s hard to keep track of all this stuff so this is really valuable, and I know many…

Making sense of “flu season”

Flu season has started in earnest, even though it’s not “officially” flu season until week 40 (first week in October this year). How do we know it’s flu season if we don’t test everyone and can’t count flu? We use a surveillance system. The flu surveillance system has lots of moving parts and five or…

Lewis Black answers the question, “Is nothing sacred?”

I’m afraid I have to complain about crappy journalism again. AlterNet is an online newsmagazine I quite like. We’ve been linked by them numerous times and know their influence. Sometimes, though, some very smart writers write some very dumb things, even if they do it in a smart way. Alas, Joshua Holland has done it…

Once more on the vaccine question

There’s hopeful news about the possibility of an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine and a weird story from Canada about “preliminary results” saying that you are more at risk from swine flu if you get the seasonal flu vaccine. With flu, anything is possible, but that is more than a little counterintuitive and strikes me as unlikely.…

Bats, rabies and how Congress reacts

Bats are no doubt fascinating animals. They also carry rabies. And I’ll be honest with you. Rabies scares the crap out of me. Most people know that rabies is caused by a virus that is spread through the saliva of an infected animal. Because the virus attacks the nervous system, rabid animals often act aggressively…

People complain that ministers in the cabinet Iran’s recently selected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government will say things so outlandish no one else would even think of saying them, but Declan Butler over at the Nature blog, The Great Beyond, begs to differ. Take Iran’s Science Minister, Kamran Daneshjou. Daneshjou’s credentials had been questioned in an…