• A billion more people will be exposed to diseases as world temperatures rise

    As many as a billion people could be newly exposed to disease-carrying mosquitoes by the end of the century because of global warming, says a new study that examines temperature changes on a monthly basis across the world.

  • NY County declares emergency over measles outbreak

    So far this year, more than 300 people have contracted measles in 15 states in the U.S. Almost half of those cases occurred in Rockland County, just north of New York City.

  • Italy imposes heavy fines on parents of unvaccinated schoolchildren

    Italian media reports that across Italy, parents are falsifying vaccine documents to prevent their children from being barred from attending school. These parents are responding to a new law, which imposes fines of thousands of euros for not vaccinating their children.

  • California hospitals to pay billions for seismic safety upgrades

    California hospitals would need to make substantial investments—between $34 billion and $143 billion statewide—to meet 2030 state seismic safety standards, according to a new report.

  • Explaining public resistance to vaccination

    Low vaccine compliance is a public health issue that can cause the loss of “herd immunity” and lead to the spread of infectious diseases. Low vaccine compliance is a public health issue that can cause the loss of “herd immunity” and lead to the spread of infectious diseases. In parts of Europe and North America, childhood diseases like measles, mumps and pertussis have returned as a result of insufficient vaccination coverage. Why is it so challenging to increase the number of people who get vaccinated? How does popular resistance to vaccination remain strong even as preventable diseases make a comeback?

  • Biotechnology advances offer opportunities for actors with malicious intent

    Over the past decade, the biotechnology economy has experienced remarkable growth, resulting in the rapid expansion of biological knowledge and application. These advances create openings for actors with malicious intent to harness readily available tools and techniques to create biological threats or bioweapons.

  • “It's not all about autism”: Analyzing a Facebook-fueled anti-vaccination attack

    Social media has given those espousing anti-vaccination sentiments an effective medium to spread their message. However, an analysis of a viral Facebook campaign against a Pittsburgh pediatric practice reveals that the movement isn’t “all about autism.” Instead, new research finds that anti-vaccination arguments center on four distinct themes that can appeal to diverse audiences.

  • Russian trolls, bots spread false vaccine information on Twitter

    A study found that Russian trolls and bots have been spreading false information about vaccination, in support of the anti-vaccination movement. The false information was generated by propaganda and disinformation specialists at the Kremlin-affiliated, St. Petersburg-based IRA. The Kremlin employed IRA to conduct a broad social media disinformation campaign to sow discord and deepen divisions in the United States, and help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

  • Do we need a moratorium on germline gene editing?

    In the wake of the news from China about He Jiankui’s gene-edited babies, many scientists are calling for a moratorium on germline gene-editing. Nature considered the topic sufficiently important to publish the call by several top researchers and ethicists for a moratorium.

  • Wastewater treatment plants spread antibiotic resistance

    The products of wastewater treatment have been found to contain trace amounts of antibiotic resistant DNA. These products are often reintroduced to the environment and water supply, potentially resulting in the spread of antibiotic resistance.

  • Potential impacts of future heat waves on humans and wildlife

    Climate change is often talked about in terms of averages — like the goal set by the Paris Agreement to limit the Earth’s temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius. What such numbers fail to convey is that climate change will not only increase the world’s average temperature, it will also intensify extreme heat waves that even now are harming people and wildlife.

  • Feeling the heat: Recognizing the risks of extreme weather

    Heat waves are more dangerous than tornadoes, statistically. They kill more people than sharks, and put more human lives at risk than blizzards, floods or lightning storms. But they lack a certain dramatic flair, making it surprisingly difficult for many people to grasp and evaluate the real danger lurking behind their devastating effects. Recognizing those risks could be a matter of life or death – especially as a changing climate is making dangerous extreme heat events more and more likely every year in the United States.

  • Could a booster shot of truth help scientists fight the anti-vaccine crisis?

    The recent outbreak of measles cases in Clark County, Washington – which has been linked to a plummeting vaccination rate in this hotbed of anti-vaccination activism – makes clear that conspiracy theories, fear, and misinformation know no partisan bounds. One of the first lessons to be learned from this “metastasis” of science denial is how dangerous it is not to fight back. Science denial isn’t limited to fringe groups – if it isn’t fought in the trenches of corporate interest and ideology, it can spread not only to the general population, but to government too, with horrible policy consequences. What is the best way to fight back against such rank ignorance? What we need most to fight science denial is a better understanding of how science works, and we should point out that scientific claims are based on evidence. We should not pretend that vaccines are 100 percent safe. There have been isolated cases of negative reactions, sometimes even leading to death. These, however, represent such a small risk – as compared to the much larger one of dying from childhood diseases like measles or whooping cough – that unless a child is immuno-compromised, it doesn’t make sense to forego vaccines. Indeed, because there are immuno-suppressed children out there, one might say that it is the obligation of the rest of us whose children are not in such a risk group to make sure that our own children are vaccinated.

  • Rise of European populism linked to vaccine hesitancy

    There is a significant association between the rise of populism across Europe and the level of mistrust around vaccines, according to a new study. “It seems likely that scientific populism is driven by similar feelings to political populism, for example, a profound distrust of elites and experts by disenfranchised and marginalized parts of the population,” says the study’s lead author. “Even where programs objectively improve the health of targeted populations, they can be viewed with suspicion by communities that do not trust elites and experts.”

  • Biolabs accidents, and genetic modification research

    Exposures to infectious diseases in Bioafety level-3 (BSL-3) and BSL-4 environments can be scary, but they do happen. Concern has always extended beyond the safety of the laboratory worker, but also that a pathogen of pandemic potential could be released. Other aspects of lab safety have raised concern as well, as more attention has been directed toward gain-of-function (GoF) research.