Michael Quinones, 10, looks up at the nurse as she prepares to administer a shot of the H1N1 vaccine to him, in Arlington, Texas November 24, 2009. (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters)
Laurie Garrett, my irrepressible colleague at the Council on Foreign Relations, likes to push boundaries. It’s certainly worked for her. She’s the only person to have received all the country’s major journalism awards—the Pulitzer, Peabody, and Polk trifecta. Her just completed e-book, I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks, is selling faster than Tickle-Me-Elmo at Christmas. Not content with her burgeoning print and e-book empire, she’s recently gone Hollywood—as a scientific consultant for the critically acclaimed Steven Soderbergh film, Contagion.
This week she’s achieved another landmark. Her CFR Global Health program has released a user-friendly interactive map on the web that tracks “Vaccine-Preventable Disease Outbreaks” around the world. For the past three years, Garrett and her colleagues have been collecting and plotting global data on the incidence of several common infectious diseases that should be headed for extinction, given their vulnerability to inexpensive and effective vaccines. The five most prevalent are measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, and rubella. The entire database—to which experts and journalists are invited to contribute—is searchable by disease, region, and year. Read more »