13 December 2018 – 02 January 2019

John Edmunds speaks to ITV news about Ebola as part of a wider piece on how a trial vaccine is being used in the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. John said: “It has a wild animal reservoir, probably bats although we don’t know that for sure, and every now and then somebody is going to be exposed to the virus, contract Ebola and potentially spread it to others. Because of that Ebola is not something we can get rid of but what we have to do is manage those cases and outbreaks, if and when they occur.” (link to interview not available online)

Heidi Larson is quoted in The Guardian about the growing anti-vaccine movement in Europe as figures show that measles cases across Europe are at their highest for 20 years. Heidi said:  “We’re in a very vulnerable place right now. I don’t know a country in the world that doesn’t have some questioning going on.”

Heidi is also featured in Horizon Magazine  for an article on ‘What to look out for in 2019’. Heidi says that we should take lessons in how to combat negative messaging online from elsewhere in order to tackle anti-vaccination sentiment. “We need to bring to the whole social media landscape the kind of rigour that is currently going on around containing hate rhetoric.”

Beate Kampmann provides expert comment to CNN on acute flaccid myelitis, a polio-like condition that can cause weakness or paralysis and largely affects children. The coverage comes as Public Health England (PHE) reported an increase in cases across England in 2018. Beate said: “It is essential to determine the causes as quickly as possible. A new type of enterovirus has recently emerged, and there was a larger outbreak in the United States in 2014. Doctors working with children and infectious diseases are alert to this strain, which has been associated with the limb paralysis.”

Martin McKee is quoted in the Daily Mail about the safety of e-cigarettes, after PHE conducted an experiment exposing jars of cotton wool to tobacco smoke and to e-cigarette vapour. Cotton wool exposed to e-cigarette vapour was barely visible compared to the discoloured and sticky remnants left by tobacco. Of the findings Martin said: “There are growing concerns about the risks of vaping on heart disease. While there are lots of anecdotal accounts of people using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, we have yet to see any good evidence from clinical trials, the gold standard method, that they work.”

Martin also speaks to the Huffington Post about Brexit after a BMJ investigation revealed that many NHS trusts were struggling to predict how medicines, staffing and supply chains would be affected by Brexit. Martin said: “These findings are extremely concerning and it is clear that any form of Brexit will have profound implications for the NHS. It is inconceivable that the NHS will be prepared for anything other than a situation that, in effect, continues the current arrangements by the end of March 2019.”

On social media

Our social media highlights come from the LSHTM Twitter page.

The first shares a blog published by the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team about how social science can be used to improve outbreak response.

The second promotes new LSHTM-led research which finds that the discovery of novel Wolbachia strains in Anopheles malaria vectors could lead to a reduction in the transmission of malaria.

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