October 24, 2018 – Pandemic


Anchor lead: What’s the most likely scenario for a pandemic? Elizabeth Tracey reports

This year marks the 100 year anniversary of a sobering event – the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed millions of people worldwide. Now many experts are sounding the warning that we are sadly underprepared to cope with such an event, even as the chances improve that we’re overdue for a pandemic. Lisa Maragakis, an infection control expert at Johns Hopkins, echoes these concerns.

Maragakis: Respiratory viruses are at the top of my list of concerns for pandemic disease. I think we’ve seen across history that this is the type of infectious disease that can spread most rapidly and cause this kind of widespread worldwide pandemic. So I think influenza and other respiratory viruses that may present like SARS did are at the top of our list of concerns.   :26

Maragakis says worldwide vigilance regarding emerging infectious diseases, including more virulent flu strains but also novel agents like SARS or MERS, remains an important strategy, as does development of molecular biology techniques to produce vaccines more quickly, but notes that for now, obtaining all vaccines for which you are eligible is an important step, as is handwashing. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.