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 Letters to the Editor

Issues of Life and Death

Appreciation for a Polished Gem

I have just finished reading—and I mean really reading—the Johns Hopkins Public Health Special Edition 2004. I want to thank you for producing this gem of a publication—not to mention thanks to the faculty and staffers who provided the basis for it. I receive publications from three universities—all good in their own ways—but this issue particularly was by far the best that I recall meeting up with.
Sidney Raffel, MD, ScD ’33
Stanford, California

Editor’s Note: If you liked the Special Edition, you’ll enjoy the book Saving Lives Millions at a Time. The 152-page book was published by the School this spring and can be ordered at

Progress in Treating Dengue Fever
I was encouraged by Bill McKibben’s essay in the 2004 Special Edition regarding dengue fever [“Populations,” page 33]. It is unfortunate that a disease that causes so much suffering around the world barely registers in the minds of most people in the West.

The search for a safe and effective vaccine against dengue virus is nearly 85 years old. For a number of reasons, it has been an elusive goal. With NIH support, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Bloomberg School’s Center for Immunization Research have been testing dengue vaccine candidates in healthy volunteers for five years. The results thus far are promising. Our research is dependent upon healthy adult volunteers. Anyone interested in helping us further this important cause may get more information by calling (410) 614-9702.
John Perreault, RN
Clinical Research Coordinator
Center for Immunization Research

A Friendship Cut Short
Thank you for sharing Elauna Griffin’s story [“The Breathtaking Disease,” Fall 2002]. I am a former co-worker of Elauna’s and we had a blossoming friendship before her untimely death. Having been in California at the time of her death, I learned she was gone to Glory and buried when I returned. I was heartbroken when I read about her death in the [newspaper]. This article helped to answer many of my questions.
Joy E. Coleman
Baltimore, Maryland

Dioxin Hoax
I recently received an email newsletter that [said] don’t freeze your plastic water bottles with water as this releases dioxin carcinogens from the plastic. I would like to know if this is true.
Louise Hallett
St. Catharines, Ontario

Editor’s Note: It is not. A hoax email about dioxins claiming to be from Johns Hopkins has recently circulated on the Internet. Dioxin expert Rolf Halden, PhD, PE, an assistant professor in Environmental Health Sciences, sets the record straight: “This is an urban legend. Freezing actually works against the release of chemicals. Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release if there were dioxins in plastic, and we don’t think there are.” Read the entire interview.

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