• How to talk to anti-vaxxers

    Despite an abundance of evidence showing that vaccines are perfectly safe and save lives, many people reject them, stoked by the frightening misinformation that spreads over social networks. Vaccine refusal is having a real-world impact. Two decades ago, measles was all but eradicated from the U.S. Now, cases are skyrocketing, with more than 1,700 infections since 2010. in the first six months of 2018, more than 41,000 Europeans contracted measles and 37 died.

  • Measles spreading in U.S., mostly among unvaccinated children

    Measles is spreading in the U.S. As of 5 February, there were 50 cases in Washington state and five in Houston. New cases are being added daily. Health officials, including the U.S. surgeon general, are urging parents to get their children vaccinated.

  • A global wave of measles cases fed by conspiracies and misinformation has health officials worried

    The number of people infected with measles keeps rising in the Washington State and neighboring Oregon. Rick Noack writes that “complacency over vaccinations has been accompanied by outright rejection of the scientific evidence on measles vaccines that has saved over 21 million lives since 2000, according to the WHO. Unsubstantiated conspiracy theories on supposedly negative side effects of vaccinations, either against measles or in a broader context, have gained momentum in some communities, in the United States and other countries.” He notes that deliberately spreading misinformation on vaccines to suggest that citizens are being lied to by their leaders has become a go-to recipe of some populist politicians. Thus, after years of railing against vaccines and even proposing a law against them in 2015, Italy’s Kremlin-supported Five Star Movement is now part of the country’s government.

  • Congressional action urged to stimulate antibiotic development

    A coalition of drug makers, infectious disease experts, and public health advocates on Wednesday called on U.S. lawmakers to pass measures that could “jumpstart” the development of critically needed antibiotics. In a letter sent to lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives, stakeholders from large and small pharmaceutical companies and organizations asked Congress to “swiftly enact a package of incentives that would sustainably reinvigorate the pipeline of antibiotics while ensuring patient access and appropriate stewardship.”

  • Comparing technologies to remove arsenic from groundwater

    At least 140 million people in 50 countries have been drinking water containing arsenic at levels above WHO guideline. A new study compares for the first time the effectiveness and costs of many different technologies designed to remove arsenic from groundwater.

  • Increasing murder rate is erasing gains in life expectancy among Mexican men

    The murder rate in Mexico increased so dramatically between 2005 and 2015 that it partially offset expected gains in life expectancy among men there, according to a new study. “It’s common to see news reports about the toll that drug- and gang-related murders are taking in Mexico,” says UCLA’s professor Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez. “This study confirms that homicide is so widespread that even when considering all causes of death, it stands out as a factor in slowing growth in men’s life expectancy.”

  • New approach to defeating superbugs

    Researchers have developed a new way to identify second-line antibiotics that may be effective in killing germs already resistant to a first-line antibiotic – potentially helping overcome antibiotic resistance. This new research – based on tackling antibiotic resistance via existing drugs (with a twist) — provides an approach clinicians could consult when deciding which antibiotic treatment courses will be most effective for patients.

  • Review of the “Digitization of WMD” symposium

    The digitization of biological and medical science is providing exciting and promising new pathways for improving health and daily life for mankind and our environment. The possibilities for new treatments, better fitness, and less prevalence of genetic diseases are numerous. However, these technologies and the information associated with emerging techniques carry certain risks and vulnerabilities. It is through understanding these risks and continuing to develop mitigation strategies for them, especially during the technology conceptualization and development phases, that we can continue to build promising new tools to improve life with confidence while addressing how they should be properly used.

  • Pandemics will cause average annual economic losses similar to losses from climate change

    Economists estimate that, in the coming decades, pandemics will cause average annual economic losses of 0.7 percent of global GDP – a threat similar in scale to that estimated for climate change. Experts say that this is a level of risk that businesses can no longer afford to ignore.

  • Denmark starts building anti-swine border fence

    In a controversial move, Denmark, hoping to stop the crossing of disease-carrying German swine into the hog farming region on Denmark, has begun building a border fence along its 40-mile border with Germany. Denmark says the fence is essential for saving the Danish hog farming industry from collapsing. Denmark is the only European country where pigs outnumber people. The country exports about €4 billion of pork each year.

  • Death in the air: Revisiting the 2001 anthrax mailings and the Amerithrax investigation

    Time may have dimmed the memory of the 2001 anthrax attacks and the sense of urgency surrounding the efforts to identify the attacker. The attacks, which involved mailings of five anthrax-laced letters to prominent senators and media outlets, killed five individuals and made seventeen others ill. The anthrax mailings played a crucial role in raising concerns over possible terrorist use of biological agents in attacks against the homeland. As a result of the anthrax scare, Americans’ perceptions of terrorism came to include an existential fear of biological terrorism.

  • Measles spreads in anti-vaccination community in Oregon

    An outbreak of measles spreads across a “hot spot” anti-vaccination community near Portland, Oregon. Twenty-three cases have been comfirmed, with twenty of those who contracted the highly contagious virus not vaccinated against measles because of their anti-vaccination beliefs.

  • WHO: Migrants do not bring diseases into Europe

    A new report by the World Health Organization disputes a belief that refugees and migrants bring exotic communicable diseases into the European region. The report is based on evidence from more than 13,000 documents. It provides a snapshot of the health of refugees and migrants who comprise about 10 percent of the nearly 1 billion population in 53 European countries.

  • Producing vaccines without the use of chemicals

    Producing vaccines is a tricky task – especially in the case of inactivated vaccines, in which pathogens must be killed without altering their structure. Until now, this task has generally involved the use of toxic chemicals. Now, however, an innovative new technology developed by Fraunhofer researchers – the first solution of its kind – will use electron beams to produce inactivated vaccines quickly, reproducibly and without the use of chemicals.

  • What we know about the effectiveness of universal gun background checks

    This Tuesday, newly dominant House Democrats revealed legislation that would require all gun buyers go through a background check, regardless of whether they buy a weapon from a licensed dealer, collector at a gun show, or stranger in a parking lot. Universal background checks are popular and enjoy political momentum. Poll after poll shows they win near universal approval. But it’s worth asking how effective universal background checks are at reducing gun violence. And the real-world evidence that they reduce crime is more complicated than the political momentum might suggest.