• 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.

  • ArgumentsFirehosing: The Systemic Strategy that Anti-Vaxxers Are Using to Spread Misinformation

    “Firehosing” relies on pushing out as many lies as possible as frequently as possible. Firehosing is effective because its goal isn’t to persuade. It’s to rob facts of their power. “The strategy is effective for those trying to hold on to political power, and it’s the same for those who gain power from engaging in science denial,” Lucky Tran writes.

  • Public healthNew Smallpox Vaccine Tested by USAMRIID Receives FDA Approval

    Army scientists played a key role in testing a new smallpox vaccine approved last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Marketed under the brand name JYNNEOS, the product, developed by Bavarian Nordic, is a live, non-replicating vaccine for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox disease in adults.

  • Engineered virusesEngineered Viruses Could Fight Antibiotic Resistance

    Antibiotic resistance is a one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Scientists working on an Army project have developed a new weapon to combat super-bugs, which could protect Soldiers and fight resistance.

  • Perspective: Lyme vaccinationWhy There’s Still No Lyme Vaccine for Humans

    There is no vaccine for Lyme disease, and Valneva, a French biotech company focused on developing vaccines for infectious diseases, hopes to change that. Valneva’s Lyme vaccine isn’t the first designed for people. Twenty years ago, Reeder could have been immunized. From 1999 to 2002, SmithKline Beecham—now GlaxoSmithKline—sold a Lyme vaccine called LYMErix. But the company pulled LYMErix off the market after a public backlash and a spate of lawsuits. If the new vaccine does make it to market, will it fare any better than LYMErix?

  • Preventable diseasesDeclaring Vaccine Hesitancy One of the Ten Biggest Health Threats in 2019 Is Unhelpful

    By Christine Stabell Benn

    The rhetoric is well-known: vaccines work, the science is settled, vaccine-hesitant parents are uninformed or misguided victims of the social media platforms where crooks spread fake science. It is taken as a given that vaccines are similarly and uniformly beneficial – aside from rare side effects – and no sane person would question that. But are vaccines similarly and uniformly beneficial? There is no doubt that vaccines can induce immunological “memory” against their target disease. And, at the population level, this reduces the risk of getting the target disease. Vaccine led to the eradication of smallpox, and we are close to eradicating two other serious infections: polio and measles. But we don’t have a lot of evidence about the overall health effects of vaccines. Everybody has been so sure that vaccines only protected against the target infection, nothing else, and so nobody studied the overall health effects. They were simply assumed to be proportionally beneficial. We do not have the evidence for all vaccines to tell vaccine-hesitant parents that it is overall beneficial for their child to receive each one of them. Rather, we have to acknowledge that there are things about vaccines that have not been investigated very well.

  • Preventable diseasesU.S. Measles Cases Hit 1,234 as Brooklyn Outbreak Called Over

    The other day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 19 new measles infections, raising the 2019 total to 1,234 cases in 31 states. One additional state has been affected since the CDC’s last update, but the number of active outbreaks has been reduced to four, down from six noted last week.

  • Perspective: Preventable diseasesMeasles Epidemic: Parents Reluctant to Vaccinate Their Children Need to Hear of the Horrors of Forgotten Diseases

    There’s been a surge in measles cases across Europe, putting people’s lives at risk according to new findings from the World Health Organization. This has in part been put down to disinformation about the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine on social media putting parents off vaccinating their children. Why are people reluctant to have screening tests and vaccinations to prevent diseases? Sarah Pitt writes in The Conversation that while some of the reasons may include loss of trust in “experts” and people in authority, I wonder if it is also partly because the stories of such diseases have been long forgotten. “Gruesome photos on cigarette packages, for example, massively help to reduce tobacco use, so maybe something similar now needs to happen in terms of vaccinations to tackle the latest epidemic and anti-vaxxer campaigns around the world,” she writes.

  • Perspective: Truth decayThe Message of Measles

    If we have to pick a Patient Zero, Andrew Wakefield will do. Wakefield is the British gastroenterologist who produced the notorious article, published in The Lancet in 1998, linking the M.M.R. vaccine to autism. The study, which featured just twelve subjects, was debunked, the article was pulled, and Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine—as well as his reputation, in scientific circles anyway. But, owing to his persistence in the years since, his discredited allegations have spread like mold. In the anti-vaxxer pantheon, he is martyr and saint.

  • Preventable diseasesTexas Cities More Susceptible to Measles Outbreaks

    The growing number of children arriving at Texas schools unvaccinated makes the state increasingly vulnerable to measles outbreaks in cities large and small, according to a new study. The findings indicate that an additional 5 percent decrease in vaccination rates, which have been on a downward trend since 2003, would increase the size of a potential measles outbreak by up to 4,000 percent in some communities.

  • SuperbugsPowerful Potential Weapon May Overcome Antibiotic Resistance

    UNC School of Medicine researchers led by Brian Conlon, PhD, discover how molecules called rhamnolipids could make common aminoglycoside antibiotics effective against the toughest Staph infections.

  • PerspectiveItalians Decided to Fight a Conspiracy Theory. Here's What Happened Next.

    Alongside the flat-earthers, 9/11 truthers and Obama birthers, the anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists have always had a special distinction: They can do immediate and specific damage in a way that the others can’t. Birtherism surely increased Americans’ distrust of politics, though in ways that are hard to pin down. By contrast, when anti-vaxxers persuade parents not to vaccinate children, the result can be sickness and even death.

  • Public healthGerman law would require measles vaccination to attend schools, kindergartens, daycare

    German children will have to prove they have had a measles vaccination before they would be allowed to attend kindergarten or go to school. A new draft law imposes steep fines on parents who refuse to immunize their children.

  • Perspective: Preventable DiseaseWhat the Measles Epidemic Really Says about America

    The critic Susan Sontag observed that disease can serve as a metaphor—a reflection of the society through which it travels. Now, a virus is offering insights into the country’s psychic and civic condition. Two decades ago, measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. Yet in the first five months of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 1,000 cases—more than occurred from 2000 to 2010. Three cultural conditions have contributed to the resurgence of measles in the United States. One is historical forgetting: contemporary America suffers from a dangerous lack of historical memory. The second is diminished trust in government. As distrust of government has grown, so too has distrust of vaccines. The third is a population that suffers from overconfidence in its own amateur knowledge. This third condition is especially dangerous: It’s one thing to Google a food to see whether it’s healthy. It’s quite another to dismiss decades of studies on the benefits of vaccines because you’ve watched a couple of YouTube videos.

  • Preventable diseasesCuring vaccine hesitation by meeting someone with vaccine-preventable disease

    Since 1 January, a staggering 1,109 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in twenty-four states — the greatest number of cases since 1994. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. The outbreaks have been attributed to an increasing number of Americans who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children. Exposing vaccine hesitant to real-life pain of diseases makes them more pro-vaccine.