SITE VISIT: Plague Fever

Science  31 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5377, pp. 615
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5377.615b

If you're wondering when bubonic plague last broke out (in December, in Mozambique) or if deadly drug-resistant staph bacteria are making gains in your local hospital, surf over to Outbreak (http://www.outbreak.org/), a site packed with news and info on emerging diseases worldwide.

Outbreak is the successor to The Ebola Page, a wildly popular site that software entrepreneur David Ornstein created during the 1995 Ebola virus crisis in Zaire. Ornstein's broader site, aimed at raising public awareness of new diseases and improving early warning systems, covers everything from anthrax (and other biological weapons) to yellow fever. It chronicles outbreaks with dispatches from PROMED, the infectious disease e-mail list, and media clippings; this material was a bit stale last week, but Ornstein says it's up to the hour when some bug is making headlines. Some diseases, like bovine spongiform encephalopathy and monkeypox, also get their own subsections brimming with fact sheets, interviews, and other info. Big-name infectious disease experts contribute to and review Outbreak, which includes “exclusives”—for example, a recent interview with epidemiologist John Marr, co-author of the new thriller, The Eleventh Plague.

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