Solve the Outbreak – CDC iPad app updated!

CDC_SolveappFrom the CDC:

Are you ready to work your way closer to becoming a Disease Detective?  CDC has released an update to Solve the Outbreak, the popular, free iPad app that puts you in the shoes of a member of the Epidemic Intelligence Service. The app now has twice as many outbreaks as before, giving you double the opportunity to have fun.

The immensely popular app has had fans clamoring for more.  So if you’ve been stuck as an Apprentice, now’s your chance to work your way through the new outbreaks to earn more badges!

New, exciting features such as sound effects, new levels, and achievements.

Work hard to earn an achievement such as Clever Clogs and Smarty Pants; but beware of the Grim Reaper and Underachiever if you fail to Solve the Outbreak.

Whether you’re a teen considering a career in the sciences, a teacher looking for a great new way to show epidemiology at work, or a germ nerd of any age, Solve the Outbreak is a fascinating peek into the work that real-life Disease Detectives do every day to keep us safe.

As soon as a new outbreak is suspected, you race to the scene and need to figure out what’s happening, why, how it started, and how it’s spread. Act fast and you can save a whole town, or a state, or even a country. Come up with the wrong answers and, well… You can always try again!

Download the app from the iTunes Store:

Updates on bird flu in China

From the New York Times:

A report on three of the first patients in China to contract a new strain of bird flu paints a grim portrait of severe pneumonia, septic shock and other complications that damaged the brain, kidney and other organs. All three died.

So far, the disease has killed 10 people in China and has sickened more than 20 others in the last two months, and new cases are reported every day. The illness is caused by a virus called H7N9 that patients contract from birds but that does not seem to spread from person to person.

The new report, by a team of researchers from China, was published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine along with a commentary from American health officials, who said the disease “raises many urgent questions and global public health concerns.”

Read the complete story here.  Read the article in the New England Journal of Medicine [Gao, R et al. Human Infection with a Novel Avian-Origin Influenza A (H7N9) Virus. NEJM, April 11, 2013DOI:  10.1056/NEJMoa1304459]  here.

Solve the outbreak!

CDC_SolveappDo you want to be a disease detective?  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a new app, Solve the Outbreak.

New outbreaks happen every day and CDC’s disease detectives are on the front lines, working 24/7 to save lives and protect people. When a new outbreak happens, disease detectives are sent in to figure out how outbreaks are started, before they can spread.  with this new, free app for the iPad, you can play the role of an Epidemic Intelligence Service agent. Find clues about outbreaks and make tough decisions about what to do next: Do you quarantine the village? Talk to people who are sick? Ask for more lab results?

With fictional outbreaks based on real-life cases, you’ll have to puzzle through the evidence to earn points for each clue. The better your answers, the higher your score – and the more quickly you’ll save lives. You’ll start out as a Trainee and will earn badges by solving cases, with the goal of earning the top rank: Disease Detective.

The new app includes three outbreaks, with more coming soon.

Download the ipad app

Lecture – Forecasting seasonal outbreaks of influenza

Columbia University researcher Jeffrey Shaman, who studies environmental determinants of infectious disease transmission, will speak next month at the School of Public Health on “Forecasting Seasonal Outbreaks of Influenza”.

  • Date: Tuesday, Feb. 5
  • Time:  4-5:30
  • Location:  1690 SPH 1 (Lane Aud.)

Sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program & the Center for Social Epidemiology & Public Health.

New MeSH terms for PubMed 2013

The National Library of Medicine has released a list of the new MeSH terms for the coming year.  Among the terms of interest to public health are:

  • Dual MEDICAID MEDICARE Eligibility
  • Food Quality
  • Fukushima Nuclear Accident
  • Geographic Mapping
  • Meaningful Use
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Patient Medication Knowledge
  • Patient Navigation
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Racism
  • Smoke-Free Policy
  • Social Marginalization
  • Solid Waste
  • Time-to-Treatment
  • Water Resources

Some terms have been changed, for example, Handwashing is now Hand Disinfection and Rehabilitation of Hearing Impaired is now Correction of Hearing Impairment.

Find a complete list of new, changed and deleted terms on Introduction to MeSH – 2013.

Disease detection: Laboratories on the front lines

From the CDC’s blog, Public Health Matters:

lab tech working with samples under a hood

You can’t respond to threats if you don’t know what they are, which is one reason that laboratories play such an important role in public health. Public health laboratories have helped detect all kinds of threats to the public’s health; including anthrax, monkey pox, novel flu viruses, and foodborne disease outbreaks caused by germs like listeria. Since 1999, CDC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) have been working together to support the Laboratory Response Network (LRN). The LRN is a network of 160 domestic and international laboratories that work around the clock to provide rapid testing of biological and chemical threat agents and support for other public health emergencies.  They use standardized tests so results from one laboratory mean the same thing as results from another laboratory within the network.

The LRN’s mission to respond to public health emergencies was tested in the summer of 2011, when a 61-year-old retiree from Florida was diagnosed with anthrax. The man was on a 3-week vacation with his wife visiting the national parks of Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas when he came down with a rare and extremely deadly type of anthrax infection that experts believe he picked up from natural sources while on his road trip.

Read the complete post here.

New from NAP – The Continuing Epidemiological Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa

From the National Academies Press:

Among the poorest and least developed regions in the world, sub-Saharan Africa has long faced a heavy burden of disease, with malaria, tuberculosis, and, more recently, HIV being among the most prominent contributors to that burden. Yet in most parts of Africa-and especially in those areas with the greatest health care needs-the data available to health planners to better understand and address these problems are extremely limited. The vast majority of Africans are born and will die without being recorded in any document or spearing in official statistics. With few exceptions, African countries have no civil registration systems in place and hence are unable to continuously generate vital statistics or to provide systematic information on patterns of cause of death, relying instead on periodic household-level surveys or intense and continuous monitoring of small demographic surveillance sites to provide a partial epidemiological and demographic profile of the population.

In 1991 the Committee on Population of the National Academy of Sciences organized a workshop on the epidemiological transition in developing countries. The workshop brought together medical experts, epidemiologists, demographers, and other social scientists involved in research on the epidemiological transition in developing countries to discuss the nature of the ongoing transition, identify the most important contributors to the overall burden of disease, and discuss how such information could be used to assist policy makers in those countries to establish priorities with respect to the prevention and management of the main causes of ill health.

This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from a workshop convened in October 2011 that featured invited speakers on the topic of epidemiological transition in sub-Saharan Africa. The workshop was organized by a National Research Council panel of experts in various aspects of the study of epidemiological transition and of sub-Saharan data sources. The Continuing Epidemiological Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa serves as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop in October 2011.

Download the free PDF or buy the book here.

Interested in global public health?

Read the latest edition of the CDC’s Updates from the field . . . , which includes stories on an outbreak investigation of an illness of unknown etiology in Yemen, a profile of Michele Evering-Watley, CDC Instructional Designer and Health Education Specialist, and public health training programs in Laos, South Sudan, and Lusaka.

Read the complete newsletter here.