public health

For the vast majority of people who live in the developed world, infectious disease is an afterthought.

Sure, we still catch colds and (if we're old or immunocompromised) can die of influenza, pneumonia, or food poisoning. Antibiotic resistance is scary -- and directly responsible for about 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year -- but it hasn't quite become the apocalypse we all feared. In general, the microbial world is just not something the average person has to think about very much.

That luxury of modern life is due to the strong defense provided by the "pillars" of our public health system. According to Dr. Michael Osterholm, these...

Every student in America should be required to take a class called, "What Do We Know, and How Do We Know It?" Perhaps if we learned from an early age how we know the things we claim to know, fewer Americans would fall for ridiculous conspiracy theories.

Public health is a field that is widely misunderstood, even by science journalists. That is because epidemiology is an inexact science that is complicated by a large variability in the quality of the data it produces, as well as by its reliance on advanced statistical methods. Let's leave the latter aside and focus on the former. Which epidemiological studies are most reliable and why?

From weakest to strongest, here are the most common epidemiological study designs:

Case report. A case report is...

Excited to report that a new study in Health Affairs provides us with another metric that we have previously known and repeatedly been shown in the literature (and in medical practice):  Life expectancy and well-being are positively linked.  

If you have ever practiced medicine, then you are used to constant email or text alerts from hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Department of Health, to name a few.  Most say urgent or emergent in the header.  Since patient results and inquiries are nonstop, being tethered to the phone is a modern reality for the practicing physician.  Often, while running between patients, procedures, facilities and electronic medical...

When some of the public hears about vaccines today, they may think of Andrew Wakefield's fraudulent links to autism or Jenny McCarthy’s use of her Hollywood megaphone to polarize the issue as well as encourage the spread of an anti-vaccine movement.  

Truth be told, for a time public opinion did shift and philosophical exemptions boomed, primarily in states like California, Washington, and Oregon. Preventable diseases blossomed. 

As science stood largely silent, Dr. Paul Offit - Chief of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and long-time trustee and supporter of the American Council on Science and Health - took to the helm to fight the noble battle on behalf of children’s health and safety.  He...

Kissing bug

Our public health system has a very bad habit of fighting the last war. This has resulted in a real-life version of American Horror Story. Like the plagues of Egypt, one exotic disease after another keeps washing ashore, catching scientists and public health officials flat-footed. 

First, it was Ebola. For decades, Ebola was a bizarre and terrifying disease associated with remote villages in Africa and a movie starring Dustin Hoffman. Out of sight, out of mind. Then, things "got real" when it killed a Liberian man in Texas in October 2014. Only after that public scare did Ebola research and prevention kick into high gear. Likewise, Zika was once an obscure virus, until...

Global public health

Human sovereignty over the environment is a double-edged sword. For instance, on the one hand, advances in science and technology have caused deaths from infectious diseases to plummet around the world. But on the other hand, some pollution has been linked to chronic diseases that erode both our health and life spans. Reducing exposure to noxious environmental factors is a major goal of global public health. But there is some confusion over what "environmental" means in other countries.

A team of international researchers, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, recently attempted to assess the share of the global disease burden directly attributable to environmental risks. Their findings were published in the Journal of Public Health.

First, the...

poverty via shutterstock poverty via shutterstock

The Global Trachoma Mapping Project, arguably one of the most ambitious public health projects since the eradication of smallpox, was the largest-scale study of an infectious disease to have ever taken place. Its disturbing conclusions is that 100 million people are at risk of blindness due to trachoma.

Most of us probably have no idea what...

Dr. Gilbert Ross in Science 2.0, March 20, 2015

Our nation s most influential, respected and powerful public health officials and academics are engaged in a vast,corrupt and fraudulent conspiracy to keep desperate smokers ignorant of the facts about how reduced-harm devices...[Read more].

At The Hill, American Council on Science and Health Senior Director of Medicine and Public Health Dr. Gil Ross is featured discussing flawed CDC to keep smokers risking their health by penalizing smoking cessation tools rather than encouraging them. [Read more].

Consumer use of social myelpedia connects and informs communities about everything from local celebrations to impending natural disasters. This daily exchange of information is a rich resource in many different ways. For example, The New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) decided to investigate restaurant diners Yelp reviews to see if these were useful in pinpointing sources of food borne illness. The pilot study is detailed in this week s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report , published by the Center for Disease Control and...