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Apr 07

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Pandemics and Information

Colorized transmission electron micrograph of Avian influenza A H5N1 viruses. By Photo Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith Content Providers: CDC/ Courtesy of Cynthia Goldsmith; Jacqueline Katz; Sherif R. Zaki [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There have seldom been as many times over the last 100 years when the world has faced such a diversity of emerging infectious diseases. For this reason, I want to review some of the best websites and blogs for tracking pandemic threats. Michael Coston has a wonderful blog titled Avian Flu Diary, which tracks emerging infectious diseases, particularly avian influenza. I particularly recommend his March 13, 2017 post “Avian Flu’s Global Field Experiment.” In this post, he describes in detail the diversification and geographic expansion of avian influenza threats over the preceding six months. Although the blog post is written for the lay reader, its information is scientifically sound and based upon a deep knowledge of influenza.

For the dangers that we face, and what we need to do to face them, it’s worth reading two articles. The first is Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s, “The big one is coming, and it’s going to be a flu pandemic.” It’s also worth reading Crawford Kilian’s, “A War We Should All Support — But Probably Won’t,” in the Tyee.

If you are interested in tracking news related to influenza, you’ll also want to follow the Virology Down Under blog. Ian Mackay often provides the best numerical analysis available regarding outbreaks. The Bird flu report collects tweets regarding avian influenza by experts in the field. FluTrackers.com is not a visually engaging site, but it collects detailed information on avian influenza, which is organized by world region. Finally, for influenza the H5N1 blog is one of the best sources on the web. The page also has links to almost every other valuable website regarding influenza and global public health.

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy website is a frequently updated site that provides excellent access to the latest scientific information. If you want to see the latest news, click on the dates for “News Scan” on the right hand side.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control has its own journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, which publishes brief scientific articles. The strength of this journal is that it is not behind a paywall, even though it is peer-reviewed. The articles are, however, typically written for doctors and researchers, and so may be less accessible to the general public.

I love infographics, which convey a rich amount of information in a concise manner. This infographic by Gap Medics, Future Pandemics, discusses some major diseases.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2017/04/pandemics/