In China, a new form of avian flu, called H7N9, has killed 10 people and infected an additional 28. China’s gotten plaudits from the global health community for its transparency and responsiveness to this outbreak. But that's partly because many remember how China lied about SARS in 2002, a decision that killed hundreds. Public health reporter Maryn McKenna talks to Bob about what the standards are for reporting health epidemics in a wired world.
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Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases—accounting for 9.4 million cases and 1.7 million deaths in 2009, according to the WHO. Maryn McKenna, science journalist and author of Superbug, and Dr. Neil Schluger, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University Medical Center and Chief Scientific Officer for the World Lung Foundation, give us a history of the disease, how it spreads, why it’s so hard to treat, and how drug-resistant TB has emerged and what it means for the future of treating the deadly disease.
An article last week in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases documented a new and dangerous gene that could allow any bacteria to become a superbug that's resistant to antibiotics and almost impossible to treat. 37 people in the U.K. have been identified as carrying bacteria with the gene, called NDM-1, after visiting India and other parts of Asia for medical tourism. Medical personnel are worried that a new strain of superbug may threaten health worldwide. Why are new bugs so resistant to antibiotics? And what might a world look like as superbugs grow stronger?
The Food and Drug Administration recently called for limiting the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals, over concerns that the practice is leading to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Time magazine staff writer Bryan Walsh and Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA, discuss the practice of putting antibiotics in animal feed, the public-health problems it poses, and the challenges the FDA faces in issuing stricter policies for reducing the practice.