Pandemic Influenza awareness week Day 4: 1918 influenza virus reconstructed

I know I said I was going to discuss a bit more about pandemic preparedness today, but I think I’ll hold off on that to discuss this story: It sounds like a sci-fi thriller. For the first time, scientists have made from scratch the Spanish flu virus that killed millions of people in 1918. Why? […]

Pandemic influenza awareness week. Day 3: Challenges to pandemic preparedness

The scientific community is all too familiar with the dangers an influenza pandemic could bring. The politicians and general public are starting to become aware of the issue as well; indeed, one can hardly open a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about “bird flu.” So, what’s actually being done to prevent an […]

Pandemic influenza awareness week. Day 2: Our adventures with avian flu

Anyone working in the area of influenza virus epidemiology is familiar with the name Robert Webster. A virologist at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, the native New Zealander has been leading the charge against influenza for well over 40 years. Barely out of graduate school, Webster hypothesized that something like genetic reassortment (which had […]

Pandemic influenza awareness week. Day 1: History of pandemic influenza

It’s hard to avoid hearing about influenza virus these days. In all the noise, it’s tough to sort out the facts from the rumors and conspiracy theories. I’ve already discussed a bit about the basic biology of the virus in this post, so I’m not going to review that here (though a good overview can […]

Emergence of canine influenza

Canine flu strikes in Westchester county, NY. A NEW strain of influenza that began infecting dogs in Florida early last year has recently struck hard in the Westchester area, forcing the temporary closure of two kennels after more than 100 dogs being boarded there became ill, veterinary officials say. Gracelane Kennels in Ossining underwent decontamination […]

Dobzhansky and anthrax

The Washington Post today reminds us that there has been little progress in uncovering the source of the 2001 anthrax attacks. [1] First, a disclaimer. I’m not an “evolutionary biologist,” per se. I have what is I swear the longest job title ever–molecular infectious disease epidemiologist. As such, I often get asked, “what’s the relevance […]