• Ebola DRC Ebola cases exceed 1,800 amid burial team attacks

    Blowing past the 1,800 case mark, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported 39 cases over the weekend as well as a pair of assaults on burial teams, along with 10 new infections today, according to the latest official reports, raising the outbreak’s total to 1,826.

  • MeaslesCurrent vaccination policies not enough to prevent measles resurgence

    Current vaccination policies may not be sufficient to achieve and maintain measles elimination and prevent future resurgence in several advanced countries. “Our results suggest that most of the countries we have studied would strongly benefit from the introduction of compulsory vaccination at school entry in addition to current immunization programs,” says the author of a new study.

  • CybersecurityWill the next cyberattack be in the hospital?

    By Brian Blum

    You may not think of hackers targeting hospitals, but this is where our wired world may be most vulnerable, and the results could be deadly. Israeli startup Cynerio aims to stop hackers from targeting medical devices, a potent new danger in our connected world.

  • MeaslesPredicting top 25 U.S. counties at risk for measles outbreaks

    A team of researchers has identified 25 U.S. counties that are most likely to experience measles outbreaks in 2019. As of late May, the U.S. has seen more than 800 [cases of measles this year, the highest number in decades. Although measles was officially eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, the ongoing outbreak shows that the nation remains at risk.

  • PerspectiveAnti-vaccine advocates spread misinformation at an anti-vaccine rally amid raging measles outbreaks

    Andrew Wakefield, Del Bigtree, and other prominent anti-vaccine advocates unleashed fear and toxic misinformation on Monday, 13 May, at a well-attended symposium in New York’s Rockland County, the location of one of the largest and longest-standing measles outbreaks in the country. Beth Mole writes in ArsTechnica that the event was billed as being a “highly informative night of science and discussion addressing your concerns, fears, and doubts,” but that the speakers made numerous unsubstantiated and egregiously false claims—as usual. In one instance, Brooklyn Orthodox Rabbi William Handler reportedly made the unsubstantiated claim that getting measles, mumps, and chickenpox reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke by 60 percent. He did not provide a citation.

  • PerspectiveThe author of “World War Z” is worried about germ warfare

    What if Zika had been cooked up in a lab? Max Brooks, the author of World War Z, writes in Slate that in 2016, he asked that question in an op-ed for the New York Daily News. At the time, Zika was spreading across the country, and Congress seemed to be treating it like the common cold. But what about the next time? What if the next attack comes not from bacteria like anthrax but from a virus like the 1918 influenza? What if someone digs up a frozen, infected corpse or, like Amerithrax, smuggles the disease out of a lab? If we were caught by surprise by a natural outbreak like Zika—which is waning now but was devastating for those affected—how could we even hope to survive an artificial plague?

  • PerspectiveTracking down the people behind a pamphlet that's fueling New York's measles outbreak

    Dr. Patricia Ruppert, the health commissioner of Rockland County, New York, where there have been 225 measles cases confirmed since October, told CBS News that misinformation is fueling the rise in cases, especially within the county’s orthodox Jewish community. For at least the last four years, what’s come to be known as the “PEACH pamphlet” has been targeting orthodox Jewish communities in the Northeast. “It holds a lot of unscientific and erroneous information,” Ruppert said. The pamphlet claims vaccines are a contributing factor in causing autism even though the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is that vaccines do not cause autism. But Ruppert had no idea who is behind the pamphlet. So we tried to find out.

  • MeaslesU.S. measles cases pass 800, on track for record year

    With 75 more measles cases reported in United States over the past week, the number of infections topped 800, putting this year on pace to pass the total for 1994, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday.

  • PerspectiveTruth decay: Vaccination scare threatens the global war on polio

    Enraged by false reports on social media that polio drops had made their children ill, an unruly mob in Masho Khelhe, Pakistan, ransacked and then burnt a clinic where physicians vaccinated children against polio. The attack on 22 April came as long-festering suspicions and propaganda about the worldwide vaccination campaign boiled over across northern Pakistan in a heady mix of fear and wildfire rumor. Ben Farmer writes in the Telegraph that the hysteria of 22 April marked a worrying setback for a campaign which had been on the cusp of eradicating what was once a worldwide scourge, but has faltered. The scale of last month’s panic highlighted how divisive the vaccination program remains to some, despite years of public education, and also how it continues to be used as a focus of extremist propaganda. Anti-vaccine disinformation on social media has made the situation worse, officials say. They are particularly worried how the suspicion appeared to have spread from the illiterate rural poor and even gripped middle class families.

  • EbolaCongo Ebola outbreak reaches 1,600 cases, as armed clashes impede health work

    The Ebola outbreak total in Congo reached the 1,600 mark, as clashes between military forces and armed militia groups flared in the city of Butembo, at the heart of the Ebola-affected region.

  • Truth decay: Anti-vaccinationBreaking down the anti-vaccine echo chamber

    By Rachel Alter and Tonay Flattum-Riemers

    In these days of Facebook and Twitter, it is easy enough to block out the opinions of those you disagree with, and only associate with people whose voices reinforce your own opinions. These echo chambers have real-world implications; currently, the U.S. is in the midst of its largest measles outbreak in decades. That’s why it’s important to find ways to communicate across the vaccination divide.

  • Oil spillsExamining the safety of using dispersants in oil spill clean ups

    A new study of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill recovery efforts makes a series of recommendations to federal agencies on how to safely clean up after spills.

  • PerspectiveAre frontline hospitals ready for a patient with Ebola?

    Investigators sampled five major frontline hospitals in Maricopa County, Arizona, to perform a gap analysis in how their response would be for a patient with Ebola or another high-consequence pathogen. Saskia v. Popescu writes in Contagion Live that from entering the hospital through the emergency department to cleansing and disinfecting protocols, the investigators evaluated whether health care workers could still answer the questions that were heavily drilled into these hospitals in 2014 following the Ebola cluster in Dallas.

  • PerspectivePopulists far more likely to believe in conspiracy theories

    Populists across the world are significantly more likely to believe in conspiracy theories about vaccinations, global warming and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to a landmark global survey. The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project sheds new light on a section of the world population that appears to have limited faith in scientific experts and representative democracy. Paul Lewis, Sarah Boseley, and Pamela Duncan write in the Guardian that analysis of the survey found the clearest tendency among people with strongly held populist attitudes was a belief in conspiracy theories that were contradicted by science or factual evidence. Why does such a large proportion of the population not believe the scientific evidence? Professor Jonathan Kennedy from Queen Mary University of London answers: “The data shows that this doesn’t seem to have much to do with factors like education, as we might expect. Instead, it is driven by anger and suspicion towards elites and experts that has also resulted in increasing support for anti-establishment political parties across Europe and beyond.”

  • Preventable-disease outbreaksWorry: Soaring U.S. measles cases set record

    Measles was declared officially eliminated in 2000 in the United States, but thanks to an effective misinformation campaign by anti-vaccination activists, measles has been making a comeback: The U.S. has just seen the highest annual record of measles infection in five years – and it is not even May. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 110,000 people, most of them children, died from measles in 2017.