• SuperbugsFDA Details Rising Sales of Antibiotics for Meat Production

    New data released by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that the amount of medically important antibiotics sold and distributed for use in food-producing animals rose by 9 percent between 2017 and 2018, after a 3-year decline. “I’m concerned that we’re going in the wrong direction,” says one expert.

  • Nuclear decontaminationLessons Learnt from Fukushima Soil Decontamination

    Following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, the Japanese authorities decided to carry out major decontamination works in the affected area, which covers more than 9,000 km2. The European Geosciences Union (EGU) has published a collection of studies providing an overview of the decontamination strategies used and their effectiveness.

  • PerspectiveDARPA Wants Smart Suits to Protect Against Biological Attacks

    DARPA, the Pentagon’s research arm, wants to accelerate the development of innovative textiles and smart materials to better and more comfortably protect humans from chemical and biological threats.

  • ArgumentSamoa Has Become a Case Study for “Anti-Vax” Success

    In Samoa, Facebook is the main source of information. Michael Gerson writes that it is thus not surprising that anti-vaccination propaganda, much of it generated in the United States, has arrived through social media and discourages Samoan parents from vaccinating their children. “This type of import has helped turn Samoa into a case study of ‘anti-vax’ success — and increased the demand for tiny coffins decorated with flowers and butterflies,” he writes, adding: “Samoa is a reminder of a pre-vaccine past and the dystopian vision of a post-vaccine future.”

  • PerspectivePlague Was Around for Millennia Before Epidemics Took Hold – and the Way People Lived Might Be What Protected Them

    One of civilization’s most prolific killers shadowed humans for thousands of years without their knowledge. Sonja Eliason and Bridget Alex write that the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which causes the plague, is thought to be responsible for up to 200 million deaths across human history — more than twice the casualties of World War II. People were contracting and dying from plague at least 3,000 years, but plague epidemics are more recent phenomena. The reason? Human lifestyles that encouraged the spread of the disease.

  • Preventable diseasesKids Traveling Abroad Often Forgo Measles Vaccine, Study Finds

    Though most U.S. babies and preschool-age children are eligible to receive the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine before traveling abroad, nearly 60 percentage weren’t vaccinated before departing, revealing missed opportunities by doctors, a new research finds.

  • Climate & businessThe Challenges Facing Fisheries Climate Risk Insurance

    The world’s first “Fisheries Index Insurance” scheme, launched by an international consortium in July, is a sovereign-level instrument designed to protect Caribbean fishing communities from extreme weather events which may become more frequent and intense due to climate change. But insurance schemes with the potential to improve the resilience of global fisheries face a host of future challenges, researchers say.

  • Preventable diseasesGlobal Measles Deaths Rise to 140,000; Young Kids Hit Hard

    Last year 140,000 people worldwide died from complications of measles infections, compared to 110,000 measles deaths in 2017. Most of measles-related deaths are in children under the age of 5. Growing measles outbreaks worldwide in 2018 and 2019 paint a picture of vaccination stagnation, the WHO and CDC said. Because measles is so contagious, 95 percent of the population must be immunized to prevent outbreaks. In 2018, the WHO said 86 percent of children globally received the first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services, and fewer than 70 percent received the second recommended dose.

  • BiothreatsU.S. Army Infectious Diseases Research Institute Resumes Operations

    The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) ten days ago said it would resume limited research, following a successful recent inspection by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. In July 2019, the CDC suspended USAMRIID’s registration to work with Biological Select Agents and Toxins, citing issues with its biosafety program. The Institute notes that there was no risk to employee health, public health, or the environment, and no infectious agents were detected outside of containment areas.

  • Perspective: BiothreatsWhat Happened after an Explosion at a Russian Disease Research Lab Called VECTOR?

    In September, a mysterious, powerful explosion shook-up a vast Soviet-era virology campus in Siberia called VECTOR. Filippa Lentzos writes that around the world, people in the know sat up and took notice, and for a good reason. Was the explosion the result of a deliberate attack by terrorists who were trying to gain a hold of deadly cultures to be used in bioterror attacks? Or was it an accident which, as was the case with an explosion at a similar facility forty years ago, would expose illicit bioweapons activities by Russia?

  • Food securityNew World Map Rates Food Sustainability for Countries Across the Globe

    Increased awareness of how human diets exacerbate climate change – while failing to properly nourish more than 800 million people – makes a better understanding of food systems a global priority. Global initiatives now call for us to transform our diets – for our health and the health of the planet – to help make food systems “sustainable.”

  • Preventable diseasesDisease Outbreaks Are on the Rise, So Legislators Are Taking Action

    Vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) outbreaks are increasing in frequency in the United States, but this trend is also met with an uptick in legislation aimed at increasing childhood vaccination in places where those epidemics occurred, according to a new study.

  • Energy & healthSwitching to Renewable Energy May Save Thousands of Lives in Africa

    With economies and populations surging, an industrial revolution is inevitable on the African continent. The question is, what’s going to power it? With renewable energy cheaper and more efficient than ever, countries in Africa have the unique opportunity to harness abundant renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal to leapfrog the dependence on fossil fuels that has poisoned the air and environment in Europe, the U.S., India and China. But will they?

  • Perspective: The Plague The Real Reason to Panic About China’s Plague Outbreak

    The Chinese government’s response to this month’s outbreak of plague has been marked by misguided emphasis on the wrong things. Laurie Garrett writes that rather than focusing on the germs and their spread, the Chinese government appeared to be more concerned with public relations and the management of public reaction to the disease.

  • Perspective: The PlaguePhylogeography of the Second Plague Pandemic Revealed Through Analysis of Historical Yersinia Pestis Genomes

    The second plague pandemic (14th-18th centuries) began with the Black Death in the mid-14th century and continued with lethal outbreaks in and around Europe until the 18th century. The pandemic devastated the European continent, killing up to 60 percent of the population. Where did this strain of Yersinia pestis, the plague-causing bacterium, come from? How did it evolve and expand once it arrived?