Yellow Fever in Brazil

Three years ago, the West African Ebola epidemic set off a worldwide panic and the biggest global-health security crisis in years. Then Zika struck and the reality of those transmittable disease threats was brought even closer to home in the United States, with more than 5,000 cases reported and America still on high alert. Yet today, an even greater potential threat to the world is … Continue reading Yellow Fever in Brazil

Histology Rings True

A 58-year-old man with rheumatoid arthritis presented to the emergency room with fevers and drenching night sweats. He was found to have granulomatous hepatitis and his Coxiella burnetii serologic tests were positive. He had no livestock exposures. What is Q fever?  Q fever is a worldwide zoonotic disease caused by the intracellular bacterium C. burnetii. How would I get infected?  Infection begins with the inhalation … Continue reading Histology Rings True

Deadly ‘Superbugs’ Pose a Huge Threat, W.H.O. Says

  Yesterday, I read with interest Donald McNeil Jr’s article in the New York Times, entitled Deadly ‘Superbugs’ Pose a Huge Threat, W.H.O. Says. I quickly wrote a letter to the Times arguing that the omission of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) from the W.H.O’s list of ‘superbugs’  was a serious oversight. TB is spread by the airborne route, unlike the other pathogens listed, which are predominantly … Continue reading Deadly ‘Superbugs’ Pose a Huge Threat, W.H.O. Says

Leptospirosis strikes Bronx, all too familiar with rats

Leptospirosis goes by many names. Mud fever, sewerman’s flu, and swamp fever are just a few of the monikers for the illness caused by Leptospira. As the names indicate, the disease is associated with filth, and in the developed world, it is rare. But in the Grand Concourse neighborhood of the Bronx, where the conditions in some of the buildings have long been called “unlivable” by … Continue reading Leptospirosis strikes Bronx, all too familiar with rats

Mycobacterium chimaera Spread from Heating and Cooling Units in Heart Surgery

  A global outbreak of infections with a form of nontuberculous mycobacteria, Mycobacterium chimaera, has occurred after open-heart surgery. The infections are thought to be acquired through airborne transmission of aerosolized bacteria from water tanks. A recent study used whole-genome sequencing to demonstrate that transmission of M. chimaera likely occurred from a point source. The study has the potential to improve responses to future outbreaks.   Continue reading Mycobacterium chimaera Spread from Heating and Cooling Units in Heart Surgery

The Specter of Untreatable Gonorrhea

Dr. Yonatan Grad found himself drawn to the field of infectious diseases— as a scientific and medical discipline— in part because it weaves together many of his own personal interests. “Infectious diseases arise through interactions between an individual and the world, so diagnosis is often based on understanding individual patients— their biology as well as their environment, behaviors, and risks— along with the biology and … Continue reading The Specter of Untreatable Gonorrhea

Turning the Tide on Cholera

  Cholera is a dreadful illness caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Patient with severe cholera often die, and administration of rehydration therapy reduces the mortality of severe cholera dramatically. Donald McNeil’s article in yesterday’s New York Times about efforts to fight cholera in Bangladesh was thought provoking. The photos and videos by Ismail Ferdous were powerful. And yet, I feel compelled to respond, because … Continue reading Turning the Tide on Cholera