Ebola: What went wrong?

The current Ebola crisis has claimed over ten thousand lives in West Africa, and continues to cause hundreds of new infections every week. Yet, media coverage of the crisis had been meager up until the summer of 2014, an entire half-year after the start of the outbreak in late 2013. The world’s delayed reaction has generated criticism for both public ignorance and for lackluster government response. But where did we go wrong? What could we have done differently that may have changed the course of this epidemic?

To get a better understanding of these difficult questions, we spoke with Princeton University’s Adel Mahmoud, a professor in both The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and The Department of Molecular Biology. Professor Mahmoud’s research focuses on the causes and emergence of infectious diseases, as well as the discovery, development, and global deployment and use of vaccines.

Question: What was the biggest shortcoming of the US and West African governments’ response to the Ebola crisis?

Answer: We were coming from behind in the response. This is a virus that we have known to exist since 1976. Continue reading

The Spread of Chagas Disease: One of the Leading Causes of Heart Failure in Latin America

Although Chagas disease has only recently emerged as a possible public health concern in some southern states of the U.S., this infectious disease has been a major threat of high priority for health officials throughout many nations of Latin America for many years.

Prevalent in countries such as Mexico and Brazil, Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is a potentially life-threatening tropical parasitic infection caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi) found mostly in endemic areas of Central and South America. Continue reading

Lessons from Polio in Nigeria

At the end of the twenty-fifth year of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, only three polio-endemic countries remain in the world – a drastic difference from the more than 125 countries struggling to control polio in 1988. One of these remaining countries is one of the most populous in the world: Nigeria.

Located in West Africa, Nigeria has made ongoing efforts to eradicate polio since 1988 as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Continue reading

Measuring up a Vaccine: The Meningitis B Immune Response Study

This past November, students from Princeton University’s incoming freshman class lined up atop Icahn Laboratory’s Oval Lounge to participate in an immune response study to the meningitis B vaccine. That clinic was the second round of a large-scale public health study being conducted by Professor Nicole Basta, an infectious disease epidemiologist in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

After nine cases of meningitis B broke out at Princeton in 2013, University Health Services (UHS) worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to approve an emergency vaccination campaign. Continue reading

Suspected Measles Case Reported On-Campus; Student Had Been Vaccinated

Preliminary testing has suggested that a University student could have a case of the measles, Princeton’s University Health Services announced in an email to the student body late Wednesday afternoon.

The email stated that 99.5% of the student body has been vaccinated against the disease. The student with the suspected case is among those who had been immunized against the measles, according to University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua. Continue reading

Ebola: Why Quarantine?

A handful of states, in response to the Ebola outbreak, are imposing a mandatory quarantine on health care workers returning to the United States from Ebola zones amid fears of the virus spreading outside West Africa.[1]

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New Jersey officials now require that travelers coming through Newark Liberty International Airport be categorized as either high risk, some risk, or low risk. Continue reading

The Politicization of Disease

Senator and 2016 presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R-TX) made media waves this October when he criticized the Obama Administration’s response to Ebola cases reported in the US. “I remain concerned we don’t see sufficient seriousness on the part of the federal government about protecting the American public and doing everything possible to ensure that people infected with Ebola do not come to the Unites States,” he said, advocating for an air travel ban for those coming to the United States from regions afflicted with the virus. “The administration is not treating [the outbreak] with the gravity it deserves.”

Cruz was just one of many Republicans – including Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) – denouncing the current administration’s ineffectiveness at the height of what was a highly competitive, highly partisan midterm campaign season. Continue reading

First Monthly Public Health Table

1. Care to spice up dinner time? 
2. Feeling a significant lack of casual public health discussion in your life? 
3. Want to learn about something meaningful in the comfort of Whitman’s common dining hall?
If you answered yes or were even unsure about any of those questions, then JOIN US!
Don’t overthink it and just come on over.
The Princeton Public Health Review (PPHR) is having its first monthly public health table!
Monday, December 8
6:30-8:00 PM
Whitman Common Dining Hall
**featuring**
Yi-Ching Ong, PhD from the Global Health Department
 presenting new non-profit models for pharmaceuticals and drug development for neglected diseases!

Timothy Buschman, Winner of the 2014 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

Timothy Buschman, assistant professor at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Department of Psychology, was awarded the New Innovator Award. This grant is awarded to “early stage investigators of exceptional creativity proposing research of uncommonly high potential impact.”

Buschman’s project, entitled “Developing an Adaptive Cognitive Prosthetic to Replace Damaged Brain Regions”, is the creation of a hierarchal algorithm that uses a neural or behavioral feedback system to learn. Continue reading

FDA Q&A: The Approval Process for Vaccines and Trumenba With Rachael Conklin: Communications Officer

Last month, the FDA approved Trumenba, a vaccine for meningitis B. Meanwhile, the vaccine that was administered to Princeton students last year, Bexsero, continues to be under review. Below, PPHR discusses the vaccine approval process with FDA Consumer Safety Officer Rachael Conklin.

PPHR: What considerations does the FDA have when approving a new vaccine?

Conklin: The main considerations are the same for approving a vaccine as for approving any other drug product: safety and efficacy. Continue reading