New Sources for Medical Information

I do not subscribe to a single printed medical journal and yet I am confident that I am able to keep up with new medical information. On a daily basis I receive updates from Pro-MED-mail a program for reporting outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases from the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

Yesterday Pro-MED reported that there is an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza in turkeys in England. Information is reported as soon as it is obtained. No waiting for peer reviewers to determine the value of the information. I also receive frequent email alerts form the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) .

Today CIDRAP summarized an article from Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID), a journal I do not subscribe to, and said “Adults who are hospitalized with serious seasonal influenza infections are more likely to survive if they receive antiviral medications, and older patients may benefit even if treatment is delayed until more than 48 hours after their first symptoms, according to a new study by Canadian researchers.” I also receive weekly CDC Clinical Communication Updates information on seasonal influenza, avian influenza, food safety, and foreign outbreak information for travelers . This weekly information is supplied by CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA).

I receive weekly by email the new table of contents for the current New England Journal of Medicine which often has free full text articles as well as abstracts of all the articles. And if that isn’t enough , on a monthy basis I receive an on line copy of the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases
So I am saving trees and receiving current medical information with a few clicks of my computer on a daily basis. What a change from the monthly trip to the medical library to review the current print journals.


2 Responses to New Sources for Medical Information

  1. Mike says:

    Have you heard of the project for early warnings of epidemiological problems by scanning open information sources?

    I think the idea is to generate a dashboard for government health officials that can help identify what would otherwise be surprises.

    I talked to a guy today who is using the same strategy (combing open information sources to identify early signals of problems) for global conflicts, terrorist attacks and human rights violations.

  2. suelove says:

    ProMED is very similar to Judith Miller wrote in the Jan 13, 2007 Los Angeles Times

    ” For the germ-obsessed, there is no more terrifying reading than the daily reports focusing on outbreaks of mysterious illnesses or emerging infectious diseases around the globe on the website known as ProMED, short for the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases ( Now in its 12th year, ProMED has become one of the most powerful, if underappreciated, surveillance tools for protecting public health. Both the U.S. government-funded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the World Health Organization in Geneva operate excellent disease surveillance systems. But absent an obvious health emergency, unverified reports of suspected outbreaks are normally circulated only internally or to closed lists of fellow health professionals. ProMED is free, decentralized and available to anyone with Internet access — the Wikipedia of disease surveillance. And, unlike the CDC and WHO, it tracks plant and animal as well as human diseases. Finally, the CDC and WHO are ultimately beholden to governments, which means they can be affected by official pressure to delay the public reporting of a potentially embarrassing or economically costly outbreak. In an era in which rapid public reporting of suspicious diseases can save thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of lives, ProMED fills a vital gap in monitoring infectious illnesses.”

    I couldn’t agree more ! Although I delete many articles such as today’s “Unknown Illness in Giant Pandas” I did read the article about the possibility that the avian flu had spread to a second turkey farm in England.

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