Friday, September 23, 2011

Sneak peak at real life public health virus prevention projects

I'm hard at work on finalizing the next issue of my public health newsletter, so I thought I'd make the most of my creative energy and post a couple of opening paragraphs that I wrote for included articles. Both deal with viruses.

Influenza Incidence Surveillace Project: Preventing the Next Pandemic

The deadly 1918 “Spanish” flu circulated silently in the United States for four months before anyone noticed it. As frightening as that sounds, given what we know now about the strain of influenza that killed up to 50 million people worldwide, it is actually good news. Better surveillance now means that we will have enough notice to stop the spread of a novel flu strain before it becomes a pandemic. That is why the Laboratory is working on a national surveillance project with the Emerging & Acute Infectious Disease Branch. This project will monitor the age-specific incidence of medically attended influenza-like illness and influenza.

The Rabies Laboratory: Never a Dull Day

Micrograph with numerous rabies virions
(small, dark-grey rod-like particles) and
Negri bodies (cellular inclusions)
 With 8,000-10,000 specimens received per year, work in the Rabies Laboratory is never dull. However, some days are more interesting than others. Laboratorians well remember receiving a tiger head for testing. Most specimens submitted are dogs and cats. Bats come next, in order of decreasing appearance, followed by skunks and just about everything else, including cows, horses, squirrels, armadillos, and raccoons. All mammals are accepted for testing, but everyone takes notice when the specimen is a zebra, gazelle, wildebeest, or nilgai.

What is a nilgai? The rabies team here had to look that one up too.

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