Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

When mosquitoes go viral -- Public health at global crossroads

September 22, 2014

Tags: global warming, climate change, health, mosquitoes, west nile virus, chikungunya, dengue, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, California Department of Public Health, transboundary

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First published in print: 09/21/2014

You can always find me in a crowd -- if you're a mosquito.

I could be concealed within total-body protective gear, adorned with mosquito-repellant bands on my ankles and wrists, lathered with DEET and oil of lemon eucalyptus, topped with a permethrin-infused hat, and, still, if there's a mosquito within flying distance it will hunt me down and bite me. It will release pheromonal signals, inviting all its friends to join the blood fest.

It's not just the ferocious itching from these bites that bothers me. Or my cortisone---slathered ankles making it look as though I'm always wearing white athletic socks. Or being haunted by the nightmarish image of a blood-sucking mosquito that had been magnified to gigantic proportions in a pre-med biology seminar.

No, I'm primarily disturbed by the terrible efficiency of these biting creatures to transmit human diseases. Nasty diseases, like West Nile Virus, dengue fever, chikungunya virus, yellow fever and malaria.

In particular, mosquito-borne viral infections have been receiving much attention lately. The buzz is that many have been spreading beyond their traditional geographic confines due to shifts in mosquito habitats instigated by changes in temperature and precipitation associated with global warming. (more…)

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Carbs vs. fats: Studies cause heartburn

September 7, 2014

Tags: diet, carbs, fats, surrogate endpoints, surrogate markers, diet studies, low fat, low carbohydrates

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First published in print: 09/07/2014

Reading and writing about new diet studies is bad for my weight and health. I often develop headaches trying to make sense of them because they're usually so muddled and imprecise. That means frequent reaching for food to prepare my stomach for anti-inflammatory pain relievers.

Nonetheless, with bagel in hand, I'm now prepared to discuss the two megawatt diet studies released last week. (more…)

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Remembering Robin Williams

September 2, 2014

Tags: Robin Williams, death, suicide, depression, Parkinson

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First published in print: 08/24/2014

Nearly everyone at the table last week had a personal story to tell about Robin Williams. That surprised me a little, because this gathering of friends was so diverse -- and so Oakland. One person talked about Williams coming over to shake hands with her then-young son who, awestruck and shy, had spotted Williams from afar at a local museum. Another recalled the time Williams broke away from some assembly to help our cane-dependent friend -- yes --- cross the street. A psychotherapist said that most of her clients had talked about Williams' death throughout the week with sadness and affection. And I relayed my story of meeting Williams and his family on a beach many years ago -- they could not have been friendlier to me. (more…)

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