Views from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

All posts in Health

Aedes Aegypti mosquito - credit VectorBase

Will current mosquito control methods halt the spread of Zika?

By Dr Laith Yakob and Dr Thomas Walker Zika has caught the world by surprise. The declaration by the World Health Organization that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, shows the seriousness of the situation. The virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Vector control should be, and is, the focus for stopping the spread of Zika. But will current control methods work? Read more

scanning electron microscope of Mt bacteria

Targeting men could be key to beating TB

white.richardBy Dr Richard White, Reader in Infectious Disease Modelling, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Dr Peter Dodd, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield Tuberculosis (TB) has been known to mankind since ancient times, and is likely to have caused more deaths in human history than any other infectious disease. Unlike HIV and malaria, globally rates of disease are falling very slowly and last year it once more became the leading cause of death due to a single infectious disease, causing 1.5 million deaths every year. Despite its importance, there is great uncertainty about the transmission of M.tb (the infection causing TB disease) - where it happens and who infects whom. Read more

A fieldworker interviews a mother with her young baby. Credit: Karen Edmond

Are home visits a cost-effective way to prevent deaths in newborn babies?

catherine_pittBy Catherine Pitt, Lecturer in Health Economics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Babies born in poor countries can be 50 times more likely to die in their first month of life than babies born in rich countries. In the safest country in the world for newborns, Japan, 1 of every 1000 newborn babies die in their first four weeks of life. In the United Kingdom, 3 of every 1000 newborn babies die. But in Sierra Leone, the most dangerous country for newborns, 50 of every 1000 newborn babies die in their first month – one death for every 20 babies born. Read more

Cytomegalovirus in human embryonic lung revealed using immunofluorescence

A viral spanner in the works

By Carolyn NielsenCarolyn Nielsen, PhD student: essay shortlisted for Max Perutz Science Writing Award. It sounds like a bad science fiction plot, but sometimes it would be easier if everyone was identical. I’m interested in how vaccines activate our immune systems and how this then works in the real world to protect us from dangerous infections. The problem is that not everyone’s immune cells respond in exactly the same way, meaning vaccines often work better in some people than in others. This can be at a local level, such as between your colleagues at work, or on a grander scale with differences between whole geographical regions. For example we know that BCG, the vaccine for tuberculosis, is less effective in sub-Saharan Africa than here in the UK. Read more

Image: Children working on field in Vietnam. Credit: ILO/Truong Huu Hung

Migrant children who don’t make the front page

Dr Cathy ZimmermanBy Dr Cathy Zimmerman, Reader in Gender Violence and Health at the School. The recent image of the body of a dead three-old boy on a Turkish beach seized the world’s attention and provoked the worst nightmare of parents everywhere. This photo, which warrants the international outrage it has received, sadly only hints at the full panorama of childhood horrors that occur around the world each day. In recent months while one migration crisis has followed another, alongside and worlds away from the children fleeing bullets and bombs, are unseen millions of girls and boys who are also suffering aborted childhoods and forced to navigate a universe of adult perils in the form of forced and trafficked child labour. But, what happens to the children who survive these abuses? Read more

blind_resized for Chariot

“When the patients share their joy of regaining sight with you then that is double joy”

Inspirational film released to mark the day Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest serving monarch. Read more

HPV vaccines in Brazil. Credit Gabriel Jabur/Agência Brasília

Could a single dose of HPV vaccine be enough?

Mark JitBy Dr Mark Jit, Senior Lecturer in Vaccine Epidemiology. Year 8 schoolgirls in the UK (12-13 years old) receive two doses each of a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that causes cervical cancer as well as genital warts and a number of other unpleasant cancers. Until 2013, they received three doses of the vaccine each. Read more