• Prematurity Awareness Day: My Story

    Prematurity Awareness Day: My Story

    A typical pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks. A premature infant, or preemie, is one that is born before 37 weeks gestation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 9 babies (more than 450,000 infants) in the USA are born premature every year, and prematurity is the leading cause of infant

  • It’s October: time to get your flu vaccine!

    It’s October: time to get your flu vaccine!

    I got my flu vaccine this week, have you? Flu season in the United States lasts from October through mid-May.1 Now is the perfect time to get vaccinated against the flu. There are 13 (!!!) different types of flu vaccines approved for use in the USA.2 Vaccines can differ by method of administration (intramuscular injection,

  • A (relatively) new virus on the block: enterovirus D68

    A (relatively) new virus on the block: enterovirus D68

    Hospitals in the mid-Western USA are seeing an abnormally high number of children with severe respiratory illness. From August to September 16, 2014, a total of 130 people in 12 states (Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania) were confirmed to have illness caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68).1 In

  • Shingles: a disease on the rise

    Shingles: a disease on the rise

    I caught the chickenpox when I was in elementary school. It was circa 1980. There was not yet a vaccine against chickenpox, and the disease was spreading through my school classroom at a fast pace. I remember sitting in the gym for an assembly, and my friend next to me was picking at a blister-like

  • Ebola: experimental treatments and the ethics of administration

    Ebola: experimental treatments and the ethics of administration

    To date, there have been over 1,050 deaths attributed to Ebola virus infection and disease (Ebola hemorrhagic fever) in the 2014 Western Africa epidemic, and the World Health Organization (WHO) believes these numbers to be underestimated.1 There is no cure for Ebola, and treatment is limited to supportive care consisting of hydration, blood transfusions (if needed)

  • New to the USA: Chikungunya virus

    New to the USA: Chikungunya virus

    Earlier this month, the first two cases of locally-transmitted chikungunya virus in the contiguous United States were reported in Florida.1 Chikungunya virus has been previously identified in people in the US (on average, 26 individuals per year are diagnosed with the disease), but all were in travelers who had contracted the it outside the country.

  • Would you like measles with that?

    Would you like measles with that?

    Measles was declared eliminated as a circulating disease in the United States in the year 2000.1 However, importation of measles into the U.S. from other countries where the virus remains endemic continues to be a threat. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that there have been 288 confirmed cases of

  • GMOs: a Primer

    The “March Against Monsanto” took place over Memorial Day weekend, where groups of activists protest the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), specifically those used in agriculture and patented by the corporation Monsanto. What is a genetically modified organism, anyway? Humans have been breeding plants and animals for 1000s of years, shaping them to fit