• California's Stricter Vaccine Exemption Policy Improves Vaccination Rates

    California’s elimination, in 2016, of non-medical vaccine exemptions from school entry requirements was associated with an estimated increase in vaccination coverage at state and county levels, according to a new study.

  • A New Way to Remove Contaminants from Nuclear Wastewater

    Nuclear power continues to expand globally, propelled, in part, by the fact that it produces few greenhouse gas emissions while providing steady power output. But along with that expansion comes an increased need for dealing with the large volumes of water used for cooling these plants, which becomes contaminated with radioactive isotopes that require special long-term disposal. New method concentrates radionuclides in a small portion of a nuclear plant’s wastewater, allowing the rest to be recycled.

  • Helping Keep U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Safe from Radiation

    Advanced modeling speeds up weapons research, development and qualification. It also lets researchers model changes in experimental conditions that increase the total radiation dose, change how fast a device gets that dose, and mix and match destructive elements like neutrons, energy and heat in environments that cannot be recreated in experimental facilities.

  • Smallpox Was Declared Eradicated 40 Years Ago This Month, but Worries Remain

    Forty years ago – more precisely, on 9 December 1979 – the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that smallpox had been confirmed as eradicated. A few months later, the World Health Assembly (WHA) officially declared that “the world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox.” Yet, four decades later, two nations — the United States and the Russian Federation — keep stockpiles of the variola virus which causes smallpox. Some scientists and security experts say that the risks of retaining the stockpiles outweigh the benefits.

  • Antibiotic Over-Prescribing for Kids in Poorer Nations

    A new study has found that children in eight low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) receive a remarkably high number of antibiotics by the time they reach the age of 5. The study, which looked at data on sick children who attended healthcare facilities in Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, Namibia, Nepal, Tanzania, and Uganda over a 10-year period, found that the average number of antibiotic prescriptions written for children between birth and the age of 5 in these countries was 25.

  • Comparing Floodplain Protection Today to Predicted Future Flood Losses

    A new study seeks to answer an important question related to flooding in the United States – pay now to protect undeveloped areas that are likely to flood in the future or allow developments to go ahead and pay for damage when it occurs.

  • The Spread and Mutation of Zika Virus

    Researchers have found that outbreaks of human disease, such as the 2015 Zika virus epidemic, may be due to genetic mutation, and viruses may undergo further changes as they expand their geographic range.

  • Seizure-Triggering Attack Is Stark Example of How Social Media Can Be Weaponized

    Followers of the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter handle were targeted last month with posts containing strobe light GIFs and videos which could have caused seizures for people with epilepsy, the foundation announced Monday. “While this kind of activity may not bear the hallmarks of a cyberattack, which can trick users into clicking malicious links or knock a website offline by flooding it with junk traffic, this attack shows that platforms can have even their normal functions weaponized in order to cause physical harm,” Shannon Vavra writes.

  • Samoa Extends Measles Emergency

    Samoa’s government has extended a state of emergency related to its measles outbreak as illnesses and deaths continue to climb, and health groups released status reports on measles activity in two other parts of the world—the Americas and Europe.

  • We Must Talk More about Measles — and Less about Anti-Vaxxers

    There are two basic stories we hear when talking about measles: first, that the disease has more or less been eradicated, and second, that it has resurfaced — more than 440,000 cases were reported worldwide between January and November — because of mindless anti-vaxxers who ignore science, mistrust experts, and who spfread misinformation from the comfort of their Internet echo chambers. “Both of these narratives, however, are, at best, partial truths,” Laurence Monnais writes.

  • FDA 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.

  • Lessons 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.

  • DARPA 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.

  • Samoa 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.”

  • Plague 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.