Peter Piot writes an article for Wired on why harnessing machine learning to improve health is a major ambition in the healthcare industry, and the potential for using it to manage health on a global scale. Peter says: “Artificial intelligence can democratise patient power and people’s ability to manage their own health, including in low and middle-income countries.”
Heidi Larson co-authors an article for Open Access Gov about the role of anthropology and technology in the Ebola vaccine response. Heidi writes: “Anthropologists have been actively helping to build bridges between social science and public health approaches to disease outbreak response and preparedness, most recently in the case of Ebola.”
Nick Thomson speaks to BBC News about new research using genomic sequencing to trace the source of the cholera epidemic in Yemen. The research, led by Wellcome Sanger, found that the strain came from Eastern Africa, entering Yemen with the migration of people in and out of the region. Nick said: “Knowing how cholera moves globally gives us the opportunity to better prepare for future outbreaks. This information can help inform strategies for more targeted interventions with the ultimate aim of reducing the impact of future epidemics.” The research was also covered by The Telegraph and Reuters.
Dan Bausch provides expert comment to The Telegraph about hantaviruses, a group of viruses spread by rodents such as rats and mice, after WHO reported an increase in cases over the past year. Dan said: “Rodent numbers can change tenfold over a season if the conditions are right for them – if there’s a lot of rain that would lead to more food being available and they can procreate more. Hantaviruses are an under-recognised problem and we need more information about this particular virus.”
Charlotte Warren-Gash speaks to I News about upcoming LSHTM research that will investigate the impact of extending the free flu vaccine to people at high risk of heart attack and stroke, but with no recorded heart problems, such as those with high blood pressure. Charlotte also provides expert comment on why people in at-risk groups should have the flu vaccine. Charlotte said: “If you’re over 65 or have an existing heart condition then it’s pretty clear that being vaccinated against respiratory infections is a good idea because it can potentially prevent not just the infection but also heart attacks and strokes linked to the infection.”
Sally Bloomfield provides expert comment to New Scientist (£) about common bacteria found in our daily environment, such as office spaces and public transport. Sally said: “We’re constantly shedding stuff into our environment, but these organisms are mostly harmless.”
Michael Marks is quoted in a Reuters article about new LSHTM research which finds that 90% of patients with scabies can be diagnosed with a simple examination of their hands, feet and lower legs. Currently diagnosis of scabies relies on time-consuming full-body examinations. Michael says: “Our study adds valuable data to the development of a simplified diagnostic process for scabies that may be applied to guide decisions about future public health interventions.”
On social media
This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM Twitter page sharing an opinion piece by Dr Rachel Lowe on how climate forecasts could help predict disease outbreaks, as well as climate extremes such as hurricanes. The piece follows on from research led by Rachel, looking at the impacts of climate change on risk of dengue fever.