Detecting Infectious Disease Early and Accurately
One of the most common things I hear about as a sinus doctor in Los Angeles is concern about patients traveling abroad – and concern from people stuck here at home about what those travelers might bring back. We live in a speedy and connected world, and countless news stories (not to mention some big budget films) have underscored just how quickly a novel strain of flu or virus could travel from a remote countryside into the world’s major metropolitan centers nowadays.
The New York Times recently came out in support of a new proposed initiative to beef up detection and networking protocols around the globe. The editorial’s thrust was simple:
A pilot project in Uganda last year, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed that biological specimens from sick patients could be gathered in remote areas of the country and carried by motorcycle and overnight delivery service to a well-equipped central laboratory, and the test results could be transmitted back by cellphone to the remote areas. A new technology currently being tested in Uganda is a dipstick, like those used for pregnancy tests, that can diagnose pneumonic and bubonic plague at the patient’s bedside in 20 minutes.
A relatively small investment can get this health security initiative off the ground.
Infectious disease has never had quite so vast or mobile a reservoir to infect before, nor so smooth a vector for worldwide dissemination. I, too, support stepped up efforts in this area, and invite my patients to join the discussion. In a world crisscrossed by flight paths, today’s rare sinus disease could be tomorrow’s epidemic.