About Me


Welcome to Pathogen Perspectives! My name has been removed from this blog to make it a little harder for the anti-vax guerrilla soldiers to find me. Anyway, I have a PhD in Experimental Pathology with a concentration in arenavirus pathogenesis. I have more than 14 years of hands-on experience working in labs with viruses, with over half of that focused on the virus that causes Argentine hemorrhagic fever- Junin. Junin virus is a member of the family Arenaviridae, genus, Arenavirus and further classified within the Tacaribe serocomplex, also known as New World arenaviruses. Like Ebola, Junin is transmitted to humans from animals. I worked with the virulent strains of Junin in a BSL4 lab. I also helped other researchers in the BSL4 lab working with Rift Valley fever and Ebola viruses. The photo above is me, 9 months pregnant in a BSL4 lab. The photo on the right is me, not pregnant, but thrilled to be holding my first successful plaque assay with the virulent Junin virus Romero strain.

There is a clear need for communicating infectious disease facts to the general public, so I decided to utilize my expertise and passion for pathogens here, where I can discuss emerging infectious disease topics such as Ebola, the new coronavirus out of china, and the anti-vax epidemic. Hopefully I can make this small corner of science accessible and interesting, and help mitigate the unnecessary fear mongering that some infectious diseases seem to inspire.

I have also been a contributing writer at Global Biodefense and The Conversation (AU). I'd provide lnks, but my real name is there too.

Currently, when not working or researching the above topics, I try to get editing done on my first novel so I can query agents. It's a biomedical thriller and I can't wait to get it finished! Not sure about whether or not my real name will be on that. Depends how many threats I get in the coming months.

Feel free to leave comments and ask questions, and please be respectful to everyone who visits this site.

Cheers,

Pathogen Scribe

4 comments:

  1. Hi Heather, thank you for having this blog. I have a question about ebola that I haven't seen addressed, even in your posts. Are the people who survive the infection immune to being reinfected with ebola? That blood from survivors has been used to treat infected patients implies that some degree of immunity may remain. If this is the case, then the doctors who survived may be able to resume their work without fear of contracting ebola again. What is your understanding about this?

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    1. Hi Paul, Thank you so much for taking the time to read. Antibodies to Ebola have been detected in survivor's blood up to 10 years post infection, but whether those provide protection against illness remains unclear. I imagine they provide at least some protection but for how long, I don't know. I would imagine that newly recovered patients are still protected to a degree that would allow them to more safely work with patients. I think success of blood as a treatment is really not supported by the data, and while antibodies are good indicators of past infection, their efficacy at fighting the disease is unclear. Evidence suggests that they indicate a robust immune response was mounted, but that some other aspect of that response cleared the virus. We definitely need more studies on this, but it's a tough one to tackle. Thanks again for reading!

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  2. Heather are the antibodies present in all humans or are they only in a select group ?

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    1. Hi and thanks for stopping by! Most humans are capable of making antibodies but there are some diseases in which that doesn't happen effectively. If you're asking whether antibodies against Ebola are present in all Ebola survivors the answer is, yes for at least a little while and for some longer, but whether these are antibodies that neutralize virus, we don't know. If I've misunderstood the question, I apologize but am happy to give it another shot if you like. :-)

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