Tag: #Influenza

Domestic Threats to Public Health in the United States

If you’ve been watching the news, you might have noticed that something interesting is going in Italy. They just had a general election, and their results were very interesting. This is from The Atlantic: “Anyone who’s spent more than a vacation in Italy knows it’s a country with deep reserves of discontent, economic stagnation, and political dysfunction. So the anti-establishment…

Non-Biostatistician, Non-Epidemiologist Tries to Complain About Biostats and Epi

Don’t you love it when people who don’t know better think that they know better, and then they end up making fools of themselves? There is a particularly interesting anti-vaccine man by the name of Brian S. Hooker. He has a doctorate in biochemical engineering, according to his Wikipedia page. Maybe you remember BS Hooker from his foray into epidemiology,…

Talking Tuesday: Spanish Interview on Flu Edition


Back in 2010, when I was working at the health department, a reporter from 1030AM in DC asked to do an interview with me about influenza. It was the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, and the whole “EpiGate” fiasco hadn’t happened. So the bosses allowed me to do the interview with her. (Also, they didn’t have many people who spoke Spanish.) So I sat down and talked to her over the phone for about half an hour. We talked about influenza surveillance, the disease, and even some virology. It was actually a really good interview. I felt very at ease.

Listening to it now, I can hear some grammatical mistakes here and there from me trying to translate my knowledge of influenza — which I learned in English — into what I’m saying in Spanish. Spanish has a lot of conventions that need to be followed, and I was a bit rusty. Since then, I’ve made an effort to speak and write it to as many people as I can. It would be ridiculous, in my opinion, to not be able to speak it fluently one day when I think in Spanish and when everyone in my dreams speaks Spanish. (Yeah, it’s weird.) Also, it’s my first language, and I hope to pass it on to any eventual Big Fat Baby Ren.

So here it is, 28 minutes of me talking about influenza in Spanish. (If you don’t understand Spanish, then you’ll just have to wait until the next Talking Tuesday.)

As always, you can download the episode by clicking here. Or you can subscribe to all episodes on iTunes.

Time to freak out: FluMist is in short supply!

Yeah, okay, it’s not time to freak out. You should never freak out. In fact, the first rule of emergencies is to stay calm. So stay calm. The “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine” (LAIV) sold under the trademark FluMist in the United States seems to be in short supply. But this is the case right now and won’t be by the end…

The New Epidemiologists, Part 2

I got distracted when I was writing last time about “The New Epidemiologists” because we started our descent into Minneapolis. I wanted to tell you that one of the consequences of new methods to do disease surveillance and data analysis is that we have a batch of “new epidemiologists” that may not have proper public health training at all. That’s…

Is the flu vaccine only 12% effective?

Synopsis The flu vaccine has low effectiveness, but that effectiveness is still better than nothing It has higher effectiveness in some age groups, lower in others There was a mismatch between the most common H3N2 influenza strain and the vaccine, bringing the effectiveness lower We need better influenza vaccine technology… Like, now! Of Sacred Cows And Such I’ve told you…

Talking Tuesday: Influenza Talk to Foreign Students


A group of students from Brazil came to Hopkins for a weeks-long course on public health. Now, these were not just any students. They were the cream of the crop from Brazil’s public health infrastructure. Some were physicians, others were epidemiologists, and others were from other professions within public health there. My aim was to talk to them about the changes that happened at the state health department where I worked while I was working there in terms of influenza surveillance. I tried not to “toot my own horn” a lot, and it was hard to exclude some of the barriers that I encountered while working there, but I kept the persona parts out… For the most part.

The talk is about an hour long, and you can also download it by clicking here.

We’re about to have a really bad influenza season

Today’s weekly national flu report had the following nugget of information under the virology section: “41(48%) of the 85 H3N2 viruses tested have been characterized as A/Texas/50/2012-like, the influenza A (H3N2) component of the 2014-2015 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine. 44 (52%) of the 85 viruses tested showed either reduced titers with antiserum produced against A/Texas/50/2012 or belonged to a genetic…