tsmith

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Tara C. Smith

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

Posts by this author

June 21, 2011
As I mentioned yesterday, the epidemiology of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) was murky for several decades after it was first defined in the literature in 1955. In the ensuing decades, HUS was associated with a number of infectious agents, leading to the general belief that it was a "…
June 20, 2011
It appears that the E. coli O104 sproutbreak is starting to wind down, with more than 3,500 cases diagnosed to date and 39 deaths. Though sprouts remain the key source of the bacterium, a recent report also documents that human carriers helped to spread the organism (via H5N1 blog). In this case,…
June 17, 2011
As I mentioned previously, I'm heading up organization of this conference, which will take place September 8-11 in Washington, DC. The abstract submission deadline has just been extended another week until next Friday, the 24th, so there's still time to send in an abstract. Hope to see many of you…
June 13, 2011
Ah, classes are finally over. The last two summers I've taught a short, intense course in Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology, condensing a semester's worth of work into a week. It's a fun course to teach, but exhausting--after teaching, I head back home or to the office to finish last-minute…
June 12, 2011
Nick Kristof has an op/ed in today's NY Times noting some sober statistics about the food we eat: that it puts 350,00 people in the hospital and kills 5,000 in the U.S. every year. He also cites three of our papers examining MRSA and swine/swine facilities.
June 10, 2011
Via H5N1, German officials are calling it for sprouts: Germany on Friday blamed sprouts for a bacteria outbreak that has left at least 30 dead and some 3,000 ill, and cost farmers across Europe hundreds of millions in lost sales. "It's the sprouts," Reinhard Burger, the president of the Robert Koch…
June 9, 2011
Maryn McKenna has a great update today on the E. coli situation, looking at where we are as far as unanswered questions about the outbreak and the strain. It's been a messy day; more evidence seems to point to the sprout farm, but CIDRAP also notes that another contaminated cucumber was found in…
June 6, 2011
Well, Sunday the said we'd have some results on the sprout tests for E. coli O104:H4. Well, so far the results are negative. The 1st tests from a north German farm suspected of being the source of an _E. coli_ [O104:H4] outbreak are negative, officials say. Of 40 samples from the farm being…
June 5, 2011
The E. coli story is moving quickly. A news report out today suggests that sprouts might be the culprit (though it should be emphasized that the outbreak strain hasn't been isolated from these vegetables yet): Mr Lindemann said epidemiological studies all seemed to point to the plant nursery in…
June 3, 2011
Mike has has a great new post up looking at some molecular analyses of the current European outbreak strain. For anyone who hasn't been paying close attention to what's happening across the pond, there's an ongoing outbreak of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC)--the type of E. coli that includes O157…
June 3, 2011
...when it contains a weird gene conferring methicillin resistance that many tests miss. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become a big issue in the past 15 years or so, as it turned up outside of its old haunts (typically hospitals and other medical facilities) and started…
June 2, 2011
At the new blog Puff the Mutant Dragon, there's a great pair of posts looking at the history of plague, with a focus on outbreaks that have occurred here in the US. Bubonic Plague in America, Part I: LA Outbreak Bubonic Plague in America, Part II: Undercover Science I'll also link them in my Black…
May 31, 2011
I wasn't going to raise this comment en blogge, but with Dr. Isis' new post, it becomes more relevant. From Rick Fletcher on the "you're too pretty" post: It's a major issue if your department won't hire your or promote you because you are a woman. It's no surprise that a retail clerk at a small…
May 30, 2011
In the United States, we tend to take our clean drinking water for granted. Even though there are periodic concerns which bubble up about pharmaceuticals or other chemicals in our water supply, we typically believe--with good reason--that we have little to fear when it comes to contamination from…
May 24, 2011
We've had pertussis and mumps, so it was only a matter of time. State health officials declared a "public health emergency" Tuesday after a test confirmed a case of measles in an unvaccinated Dallas County baby who apparently picked up the disease in India. They said people who might have been…
May 24, 2011
This wasn't the post I wanted to write about the ASM conference. There's been lots of great science discussed (I've tried to tweet some of it, but the wifi in both the conference center and my hotel have been spotty, so I've not had a chance to write anything comprehensive). Instead, I'm ticked off…
May 22, 2011
The American Society for Microbiology General Meeting started yesterday in New Orleans. Not sure how much time I'll have to write it up (plus the wifi wasn't functioning yesterday at the conference center), but you can follow along on Twitter (hashtag #asm2011). Full day tomorrow, and I saw at…
May 18, 2011
Ebola has long been associated with wildlife. From the early days, bats were viewed as a potential reservoir (though it wasn't confirmed that they actually harbored the virus until 2005). Contact with wild animals--particularly primates which were butchered for food--was also long thought to be a…
May 16, 2011
Via H5N1 and other sources, there's at least one new Ebola case in Uganda: The rare and deadly Ebola virus has killed a 12-year-old Ugandan girl and health officials said on Saturday they expected more cases. The girl from Luwero district, 75 km (45 miles) north of the capital Kampala,…
May 13, 2011
It's been not even a month since the last paper looking at MRSA in meat, and up pops another one. So far here in the US, we've seen studies in Rhode Island (no MRSA found); Louisiana (MRSA found in beef and pork, but "human" types: USA100 and USA300); the recent Waters et al study sampling in…
May 12, 2011
An ahead-of-print paper in Emerging Infectious Diseases is generating some buzz in the mainstream media. While the findings are interesting, I'm honestly not sure how they got published, being so preliminary. Like many areas, Vancouver, British Columbia has seen a jump in the prevalence of bedbugs…
May 10, 2011
Maryn McKenna was awesome enough to take some time out of her vacation to blog about our recent ST398 paper, finding "livestock-associated" S. aureus in a daycare worker. She raised one question I didn't really address previously, regarding our participation by kids and workers at the facility (…
May 6, 2011
The University of Iowa press office did a nice story on our recent article showing "livestock-associated" S. aureus in a daycare worker in Iowa. LabSpaces covers it here. I started a new Facebook page for our research center, the University of Iowa Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. Join up…
April 29, 2011
Maryn McKenna has an excellent post on 2008's measles outbreak in Arizona. 14 confirmed patients, 8,321 individuals tracked down, 15,120 work hours lost at 7 Arizona hospitals due to furloughs of staff who were not appropriately vaccinated, and almost $800,000 spent by 2 hospitals just to contain…
April 25, 2011
Just received an email from Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases saying that my recent article, The Emergence of Staphylococcus aureus ST398, will be available for free online for the next two weeks. It was submitted roughly a year ago so it's already a bit dated in this quick-moving field, but…
April 25, 2011
The Times Square Jumbotron ad keeps trucking, and with it frustration from the medical and public health community. The American Academy of Pediatrics sent a letter to CBS Outdoors, asking them to pull the ad, to no avail. Rahul Parikh thinks it's time to do more: We in medicine need more than…
April 21, 2011
If there's anyone living in the Columbus, OH, area who's interested in getting involved (or more involved) in science outreach and the Science Cafe movement, now's your chance. The Columbus Science Pub, which I started off back in September 2010 and which now boasts over 450 fans on Facebook, is…
April 19, 2011
As Maryn McKenna and others have reported, a paper was released on Friday showing a high percentage of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus contaminating raw, retail-available meat products. There has been a lot of media coverage of this finding--so what does the study say, and what are its…
April 11, 2011
We all know of once-respected scientists who ended up going off the deep end, adhering to an unproven idea despite massive evidence to the contrary. Linus Pauling and his advocacy of megadoses of Vitamin C, or Peter Duesberg's descent into HIV denial. It's all the more disappointing when the one…
April 10, 2011
There has been a lot of commentary this week about the GOP-led proposal to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Commentators such as Ezra Klein note the irrationality of this stance, since Planned Parenthood itself estimates it prevents more than 620,000 unintended pregnancies each year, and 220,000…