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Examining Real World Global Health Scares On Halloween

“Many of the most terrifying Halloween archetypes have very real counterparts, with very real health consequences,” Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Rachel Silverman, a consultant and candidate for MPhil in Public Health at the University of Cambridge, write in the center’s “Global Health Policy” blog. They describe malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes as vampires, reemerging diseases — such as measles, pertussis, and mumps — as ghosts, antibiotic-resistant bacteria as mutants, “virulent and deadly new pathogens” such as SARS and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) as zombies, those injured in road accidents as mummies, and note the global burden of anxiety disorders, calling it “fear itself.” They write, “Despite all these real-world scares, there’s no need to panic; while no rigorous evidence suggests that stakes or garlic are particularly efficacious, most global health monsters can be stopped with cheap and effective vaccines, prophylaxis, or remedies” (10/31).