John Ross, MD, FIDSA

John Ross is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases, and practices hospital medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He is the author of Shakespeare's Tremor and Orwell's Cough: Diagnosing the Medical Groans and Last Gasps of Ten Great Writers, and is one of the editors of the textbook Principles and Practice of Hospital Medicine.


Posts by John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Is the “full course of antibiotics” full of baloney?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Conventional medical wisdom has held that taking antibiotics for longer periods of time produces better results and lowers the risk for antibiotic resistance. But the evidence for this is slim, and researchers are now questioning this approach.

Bad viruses travel fast: Measles vaccine important for travelers

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Because measles is so highly contagious, and because there is a significant delay before symptoms manifest, a person can carry the virus and infect others without knowing it, and many adults may not have received an effective dose of the vaccine. Many outbreaks of measles could probably be prevented if more travelers received MMR vaccine prior to foreign travel.

Bad bug, no drugs: The real end of antibiotics?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

The constant stream of antibiotics in the food we eat and in the hospitals that treat us is creating the perfect environment for antibiotic resistant bacteria. It’s not cost effective to develop new antibiotics to replace the now-useless ones, so our pipeline is drying up. And while this sounds bleak, there are things you can do as a consumer and as a patient to help. You can start by paying attention to the food you eat and by not pressing your doctor for unnecessary antibiotics.

Charles Darwin, Chagas’ disease, and the killer kissing bugs of California

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

An insect known as the kissing bug has the ability to pass along Chagas’ disease to unsuspecting people. While it affects more people in Latin America than in this country, this parasitic disease can still be a problem in the southwestern United States. Most cases of Chagas’ disease pass without much incidence, but it can cause lasting problems. The rates of Chagas’ disease could go up with climate change, and more research is definitely needed. Charles Darwin may be one of the first “researchers” on the subject, but he’s not to be the last.

E-cigarettes: Good news, bad news

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

While e-cigarettes do not produce the tar or toxic gases found in cigarette smoke, this doesn’t make them a healthy option. The e-liquid found in e-cigarettes still contains highly addictive nicotine that also increases your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Nicotine also increases the risk of addiction to other drugs and may impair brain development. Rather than rely on the perceived benefits of e-cigarettes, people should avoid smoking altogether.

Zika: Worse than we thought?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Just a few months ago, public health experts were confident that there would be minimal spread of Zika virus into the United States. But as they’ve continued to study Zika and catalog its effects on countries around the world, they’re discovering that it might be scarier than they initially thought. We’ve summarized the latest findings on Zika and included tips to help you ward it off.

What the rise of Zika (and other viruses) might tell us about our planet

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Zika, a virus that was almost unknown just a short time ago, is now certain to spread to almost every country in the Americas. But why have the U.S. and other countries become more vulnerable to the threat of exotic pathogens? There currently aren’t enough data to make any solid connections, but many experts agree that the rise of global trade and travel, climate change, and ecosystem changes are all major factors.

What you need to know about Zika virus

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Zika, a formerly rare and obscure virus, has recently spread throughout the Pacific islands and the Americas. Although Zika virus rarely makes people seriously ill, it’s been implicated in a huge rise in the number of birth defects in babies born to mothers who’ve had Zika. Although its impact in the U.S. is expected to be much less severe than in warmer climates, we’ve listed some tips to reduce your exposure to the type of mosquito that carries Zika.

Only the overworked die young

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Multiple studies have found a link between working long hours and having a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. The reasons why aren’t entirely clear, but may be related to chronically elevated levels of stress hormones, as well as lifestyle factors such as little exercise, poor eating habits, and a greater use of alcohol and tobacco among those who work the longest. But you can take steps to reduce the effects of long work hours on your health.

Do statins interfere with the flu vaccine?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

The statin drugs are very effective at reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and may also reduce inflammation throughout the body. Both of these properties can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. At the same time, research — some of it conflicting — suggests that statins may also affect the body’s immune system. In particular, they may dampen the response to vaccines.