Articles on Infectious diseases

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Try to predict the outcome of a single coin toss and you’ll have only a 50-50 chance of being correct. Pauli Antero/Flickr

Why predicting a flu outbreak is like betting on football or flipping a coin

Predicting infectious disease outbreaks is a tricky task to begin with. And it's made harder still by the fact that any individual outcome is subject to unpredictable – or stochastic – effects.
Vaccinations for children and other health services were suspended during the Ebola epidemic. USAID/Flickr

Ebola to blame for more malaria deaths in west Africa

Ebola has been blamed for a surge in untreated malaria cases in west Africa that could have led to an excess numbers of deaths from malaria, greater than the total caused by the Ebola virus.
Prior to world war one, many more soldiers died of infection rather than combat. Navy Medicine/Flickr

Stealth attack: infection and disease on the battlefield

Rupert Brooke was commissioned in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a Sub-Lieutenant. Without seeing combat, he died aboard a French hospital ship, from a mosquito bite that turned septic.
Military needs drove the development of vaccines we still use today. US troops storming beach via www.shutterstock.com.

How World War II spurred vaccine innovation

During World War II the US military forged partnerships with industry and academia that translated laboratory findings into working products at an unprecedented pace.
Recommended antibiotic courses are often arbitrary. Katy/Flickr

No, you don’t have to finish all your antibiotics

Advice that you have to finish the whole course of antibiotics reflects long-standing convention or the drug manufacturer’s decision during an initial trial, rather than scientific evidence.
Only a small proportion of people who eat these berries will become infected. Chiot's Run/Flickr

Scary berries: how food gets contaminated and what to do

Food distributor Patties Foods has recalled two brands of frozen mixed berries — Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet — due to reports of three people in Victoria, four in Queensland and two in New South Wales…
Ebola close up. NIAID

Ebola outbreak: where we are now and what happens next

Ebola virus disease was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, and by 2013 had caused about 20 recorded outbreaks across East and Central Africa. These had been restricted to…
We’re in a protracted war against superbugs because we’ve overused existing antibiotics: a key weapon against disease. Nomadic Lass/Flickr

We need new antibiotics to beat superbugs, but why are they so hard to find?

We’ve heard a lot lately about superbugs – bacteria that are resistant to current antibiotics. But as the threat of superbugs continues to rise, the number of new treatments available has flatlined. This…
Eradicating Ebola is worth every penny spent. Arie Kievit/EPA

This must be the year we beat Ebola in West Africa

The Ebola pandemic cutting a swathe through West Africa is thought to have begun in December 2013. A year later the WHO estimates more than 20,000 men, women and children have been infected with the virus…
Some rat, possum and mozzie species thrive when living close to people. Mark Philpott/Flickr

Urbanisation brings animals and diseases closer to home

Our world is becoming increasingly urbanised. In 1950, just 30% of the world’s population lived in urban areas. This number is now over 50% and rising. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population are…
Ebola is less infectious than other diseases but has a high fatality rate. EPA/Ahmed Jallanzo

Fast-spreading killers: how Ebola compares with other diseases

The West African outbreak of Ebola has claimed more than 4,800 lives and this number is sure to rise. There is understandably a lot of fear about Ebola, but how does it actually compare with other fast-spreading…

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