Are we *sure* Ebola isn’t airborne?

Since yesterday’s post, several people have asked me on various social media outlets about the airborne nature of Ebola. Didn’t I know about this paper (“Transmission of Ebola virus from pigs to non-human primates“), which clearly showed that Ebola could go airborne? Indeed I do–I wrote about that paper two years ago, and it in […]

The microbiology of zombies, part IV: hidden infections

(As previously, spoilers abound) So on this week’s Walking Dead soap opera, we find that Daryl/Michonne’s group is still out and about searching for medical supplies. Back at the prison, the food situation is dire (apparently all the food stores were in the cell block where the infection broke out), so Rick and Carol head […]

The microbiology of zombies, part II: ineffective treatments and how not to survive the apocalypse

(Spoilers. And things.) After the start of season 4 of the Walking Dead and the introduction of a new nemesis: a fast-spreading, deadly infectious disease that seems to be a strain of influenza, I was looking forward to the plot arc of this season. And then episode 3, “Isolation”, happened. From an infectious disease standpoint, […]

Student guest post: New Study Finds that the Flu has Multiple Ways of Spreading

Student guest post by Sean McCaul Image Source:  http://www.cejournal.net/?p=1934 The next time somebody in your office or household has the flu, you might want to consider keeping your distance.  A new study published this month in Nature Communications suggests that about half of the transmission of influenza A results from inhalation of microscopic infectious droplets created […]

Student guest post: Chirp, Chirp, Sneeze!

Student guest post by Julia Wiederholt I don’t think there is a single person that can claim to have never had the joyous experience (sarcasm intended) of suffering from the influenza.  We all recognize the common symptoms that accompany this infectious little virus taking up residence in our bodies: the chills accompanying a fever, the […]

Student guest post: Seasonal Flu Vaccine: Why we need it

It’s time for this year’s second installment of student guest posts for my class on infectious causes of chronic disease. Fifth one this year is by Nai-Chung Chang.  Of the many health problems that everyone is bound to have at some point, influenza, or just “the flu,” is one of the most prominent. In fact, we call […]

What’s up with H7N9, the new avian influenza?

I have a new article up today at Slate, examining the emergent H7N9 avian influenzas, and a bit of a review of “bird flu” in general: While we were carefully watching H5N1 in Asia and Europe, another influenza virus—2009 H1N1—appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Ultimately traced back to swine, this virus was easily spread between […]

Holy influenza, batman!

Typically when we think of flying things and influenza viruses, the first images that come to mind are wild waterfowl. Waterbirds are reservoirs for an enormous diversity of influenza viruses, and are the ultimate origin of all known flu viruses. In birds, the virus replicates in the intestinal tract, and can be spread to other […]