Tag: epidemic

Hopkins’ Center for Health Security Gets $16 Million for Research

Courtesy Bloomberg School of Public Health

Only a month after the Center for Health Security reintegrated itself into the Johns Hopkins University, the center is set to receive $16 million in funding for research on strengthening public health and security.

Hundreds of Dolphins in the Chesapeake and Beyond Are Dying of Measles, Sort Of


bottlenosedolphin (500x333)

Over 300 bottlenose dolphins have washed up along the Eastern seaboard from New York to Virginia since July 1. (And the Chesapeake Bay has received its fair share.) Now scientists think they know what’s killing them in such devastating numbers. It’s called morbillivirus, and it’s related to the measles virus.

The issue now is determining why these dolphins have suddenly become vulnerable to the disease. “These animals, dolphins, carry the virus in their system and when their immune system gets compromised, they become more vulnerable to the spread of the disease,”  Maggie Mooney-Seus of the NOAA told WJZ.

Hopkins Docs on the Real Risk of Contagion


Have you seen the trailer for Contagion? Okay, I’m a wimp — but it’s frankly terrifying. Steven Soderbergh’s newest movie doesn’t try to scare us with terrorists or asteroids; instead, its our weak and susceptible immune systems that are the threat. It’s the kind of movie that’ll make you look askance at anyone nearby who sneezes.

Lucky for us Baltimoreans, though, we’ve got all those wonderful Johns Hopkins doctors to protect us. Right? RIGHT?! The Hopkins Gazette recently polled some of the school’s infectious disease/public health experts about their take on the film’s scenario, and I have to admit, they don’t say anything all that reassuring:

Joshua Epstein is uniquely qualified to talk about this sort of stuff, as a professor of emergency medicine and a behavior modeling expert; (un?)fortunately for us, he says that what’s really contagious is fear. In a hypothetical pandemic/plague situation, fear is the wild card:  when they’re afraid, people act irrationally. They may ignore official guidance, refuse vaccines, and otherwise make things worse.

One thing that might make people afraid is the possibility of scarce resources. (Remember the brief Cipro hoarding panic of 2001?) Who decides who gets what, and when? According to Holly Taylor, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, one way to allay fear is not just to make plans, but to make sure everyone knows that plans have been made.

And lest we start to feel like we might be immune to widespread infection, Trish Perl, a leading epidemiologist/infectious disease expert, reminds us of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 that killed 50 million people worldwide.

Feel better now?

The Plagiarism Epidemic: Real or Mirage?


Dora Clarke-Pine was getting the funny feeling that there was a lot of copying going on with her students. Being an academic (she’s an associate professor of psychology and school counseling at La Sierra University), she naturally decided to make a study out of it — and found that four out of five of the PhD dissertations she examined had strings of 10+ words copied exactly, without attribution. Yikes.

The obvious conclusion would be that students are plagiarizing more than ever. Google, essay factories, the slow erosion of copyright culture — you can pick your favorite villain.

According to Clarke-Pine, though, it’s not that there’s a nationwide cheating crisis — at least, not on purpose. She concluded that most of the borrowing was unintentional. That is, that students either weren’t entirely aware of what they were doing (perhaps finding other peoples’ phrasing creeping into their own work), or didn’t know that what they were doing “counted” as plagiarism. Really, Clarke-Pine opines, it’s the fault of the universities themselves — for not doing a better job of teaching students about plagiarism, and how to avoid it.

So what do you think — is most of this copying innocent, or is Clarke-Pine letting students off the hook too easily?