A roundup of this year’s infectious disease news
As we reach the end of the year, we wanted to rifle through our digital repository to select our best infectious disease articles from 2023. From accessible and reliable testing for mpox to the avian influenza threat brewing in mink fur farms, we’ve covered a lot of ground. Have a scroll and see what we’ve picked!
We sat down with Ayesha Khan, social justice activist and Clinical Microbiology Fellow, Department of Pathology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, United States, about antimicrobial resistance, and how society, politics, health, and science are inextricably intertwined. “As I grew older, I had to deal with the fact that capitalist healthcare systems, almost everywhere, are profiting from sickness – without ever addressing the core root to social conditions that are making people sick in the first place. No one walks out with a prescription for food and water. I realized that we try to address disease in a vacuum – as if it is totally unaffected by the environment around it.”
Virus in Furs
Is mink fur farming a ticking time bomb for a potential pandemic? We spoke to Thomas Peacock, virologist from Imperial College London, and Shely Bryan from Humane Society International about the threat of avian influenza A H5N1 brewing in these fashion-fueled farms. “It’s an industry that doesn’t really serve a huge purpose. It is also a dying industry. If we stop it early, it wouldn’t be a bad thing – not only for the poor mink, but also for human pandemic preparedness.”
Three Mpox Challenges
Mpox testing has certainly improved, but there are still significant barriers to address and lessons to learn. Many of these challenges can be addressed with better collaboration between industry and clinical labs. “One key message we learned from COVID-19 is that companies need to do more to get reliable testing materials into the hands of test developers – both for clinical labs and for commercial test manufacturers,” writes Erica Few.
A Perfect Molecular Match
How can we use emerging technologies to stay ahead of the threat of a pandemic? Anona Bamford tells us how we need to optimize molecular testing and establish pandemic preparedness networks. “Molecular diagnostics offer us an opportunity to monitor populations, quickly identify and address infectious diseases, and even distinguish between multiple illnesses with similar or nonspecific symptoms. To take full advantage of these tests’ capabilities, we need to ensure that all people have equitable access to them – and we need to establish a pandemic preparedness infrastructure that allows us to act quickly on the information they provide.”
Don’t Kick the Dust: Disease in Climate Change California
We interviewed Royce Johnson, Chief of Infectious Disease at Kern Medical and Medical Director at the VFI, to learn more about valley fever – an infection caused by the fungus Coccidioides and exacerbated by man-made climate change.
What’s New in Infectious Disease?
Fancy an ultra-quick review of the latest infectious disease news? Look no further. From environmental bacteriophages to cap snatching viruses, see the five stories we decided to include in this rapid research roundup!
Associate Editor for the Pathologist