Advice on Making a Blog

Making Disease Detective was a journey that took me weeks to work out the kinks. What started out as a simple interest really grew into a passion to share knowledge with others. If you’re reading this, you are most likely interested in blogging, but are unsure how to get started. I remember being in this situation a few months ago and I figured that this would be a great opportunity to share some advice on how to blog based on what I have found works for me. Below are six key tips to help get your blogs off the ground and build them up to the way you want them to be. Enjoy!

  1. Pick a topic you are passionate about. When I wanted to start my blog, I had an assortment of ideas running through my head about what I could write about. After talking with some friends, I had narrowed my topic down to two main choices. What finally sold me on Disease Detective was my passion to become a physician and to be a part of the medical community. During my undergraduate years at Drew University, I have taken a diverse set of biology courses to provide me with a solid, scientific foundation that allowed me to write about diseases in blog posts that everyone can easily understand. Whatever topic you end up choosing, make sure you have a passion for it, because it will make writing and maintaining the blog much easier. Spending the time now to think about what topic you will write about will save you confusion and aggravation later on.
  1. Determine who your audience will be early in your planning process. Once you establish who your audience is, you can easily write your posts. Deciding your audience takes some time, but can only be decided after you have picked your topic. Writing to a specific audience is important because it will help your blog reach the viewers you are looking for, and it will help you focus the tone of your writing. Getting this out of the way before creating your blog will make it easier to focus on sharing your information when it is time to write posts.
  1. Get started using WordPress. Yes, there are many web design platforms to choose from, but in my opinion, WordPress is one of the easiest platforms to get started on if you have little to no experience. Starting out with a free WordPress account, you can easily configure your blog and have it up and running in a matter of 15 minutes. While picking a theme can be challenging given the numerous options, start out with a simple (free!) theme to get going, and then work to make it your own. Overtime, if you see fit, you can upgrade to paid themes or higher-level WordPress accounts to gain more advanced features, but the free account is more than enough to get you started.
  1. Don’t be afraid to play around with the visual theme of your blog. Once your blog is running, has a few posts, and has some followers, it’s time to work on perfecting the visual appeal of your blog to make it your own. Adjusting the color palette of your theme, or changing the theme all together are some of the fastest ways to change your blogs aesthetics. The visual theme of your blog should complement the topic you are blogging about. For Disease Detective, I choose a simple color palette that tied in the colors in my logo. This theme makes it easy for my readers to comfortably read text, see images, and navigate the blog. Best of all, the theme I choose was free! Find a theme that makes you happy, highlights your hard work, and goes with the topic you are presenting!
  1. Blog on a regular basis! Whether you blog daily, weekly, or biweekly, once you start your blog you should aim to blog on a weekly basis. Admittedly, I have not been 100% perfect on this myself, but if you can blog on a regular basis, you can keep your followers actively engaged with your content. Keeping the web traffic flowing to your blog may not be your priority when you are fresh and starting up, but eventually, you will want to build up your followers so that your hard work can be recognized. Blogging regularly shows that you are more serious about your topic and it gives your followers something to look forward to at a predictable time.
  1. Use social media to help spread your blog when you are ready to attract more followers and traffic. Once you have posted a few posts and have configured your blog the way you want, it is time to start generating some traffic. Expanding your reach is a nice way to showcase your hard work and share your thoughts with others. Social media is one of the easiest ways to do this as you can quickly reach a large amount of people in a short time. Start by making a Twitter account for your blog and linking it to your blog site – doing so will drive traffic between the two places and expand your reach. If you have personal social media accounts, publicize yourself and share the URL for your blog – The more you spread your blog, the more followers you will get.


I hope these tips were helpful! If anyone has any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment below and let me know! As I graduate Drew University, I plan to keep Disease Detective running, so enjoy the posts!

The Problem with Under Reporting…

One of the most common problems noticed when a new disease emerges and the scientific community races to study it is the problem of under reporting. Under reporting in disease research can be seen at the case-reporting level (when local doctors incorrectly diagnose a disease and do not alert the proper authorities) or at a larger level, where whole countries do not properly understand and report the prevalence with a disease.

Under reporting can have serious consequences in infectious disease research because when scientists need to understand the severity of a disease, they will be unable to get an accurate and true picture. In the current Zika Virus outbreak in South America, one of the major problems being seen is the lack of accurate records as to the prevalence of microcephaly in children before the Zika outbreak. Scientists want to examine if there truly are more cases of microcephaly now than before, but the lack of records is proving to make the task difficult to complete.

Another example of where under reporting is proving to be a problem is in the study of Melioidosis, also known as Whitmore’s disease. Many people have never heard of this disease, (I haven’t heard of it before writing this post!!) but it is one of the most prevalent diseases spreading through many developing nations, such as India, Brazil, and other tropical areas. Melioidosis is caused by a shape-changing bacteria in contaminated soil and water, and it can infect both humans and animals. A new study, published in Nature Microbiology, estimates that this disease is under reported in 45 countries where it is known to exist, and is present in 34 more countries that do not report it yet. This is a serious problem because Melioidosis can be fatal within 48 hours of symptoms occurring. In these developing nations, where access to healthcare is limited and people live very close to one-another, this under reported disease can cause a serious problem in the future.

Welcome to Disease Detective!

Welcome to Disease Detective! My name is Constantinos Bacas, and I will be your detective to separate facts from fear. Disease Detective will talk about a variety of diseases, past and present. I will look at some of the popular news media, see how they paint different stories, and find and read the articles that the news headlines are based off of. By removing the fear and reporting the facts, many of the diseases that have faced the world will not seem as scary to those without a firm understanding in the sciences. If you want to learn more about a particular disease, just comment! As long as I can find enough information to write about the disease, I will gladly post and provide you with the facts without the fear!

So, who am I? I am a senior biology major at Drew University in Madison, NJ. I have taken many advanced biology courses, including genetics, microbiology, immunology, infectious disease, and more. I am currently applying to medical school in hopes of attaining my MD. Apart from my coursework, I conduct research on the innate immune system with one of my professors. My research has allowed me to read a host of primary literature and research studies, many of which were used by the news media and spun to tell a slightly different tale. Launching Disease Detective is my way to help everyday people understand the complex world of infectious disease. I hope you enjoy!