Which American cities have lowest herd immunity due to anti-vaxxers?

Parents of Seattle, Spokane, Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Provo, Houston, Fort Worth, Austin, Plano, Detroit, Troy, Warren, Kansas City and Pittsburgh: beware. Read the rest

In California, an underground network of anti-vax doctors will write your kid a medical exemption letter to get them out of their vaccinations

After an outbreak of measles at Disneyland, California lawmakers had enough and passed SB277, banning kids from attending the state's schools unless they were fully vaccinated, and eliminating the waiver that let parents put their kids and others' in danger by signing a form stating that "immunization is contrary to my beliefs." Read the rest

A virus first found in chickens is implicated in human obesity

As someone who's struggled with his weight all his life (and who comes from a family with similar problems), I've long been fascinated with the science of weight and obesity; many years ago I listened to a Quirks & Quarks segment detailing the theory that the modern obesity epidemic was the result of a bird flu that affected our gut flora and changed our metabolisms to make us hungrier and more susceptible to convert the food we ate to fat. Read the rest

5 years after Texas GOP's attack on women's reproductive health, TX leads developed world in maternal mortality

Remember when Texas governor Rick Perry and the GOP state government led an unprecedented assault on women's reproductive health in the name of preventing abortions, using dirty tricks to pass an unconstitutional law that led to a boom in unsafe home abortions and a black market for day-after pills, while ending Planned Parenthood's vital cancer-screening program, before defunding Planned Parenthood altogether? Read the rest

Our public health data is being ingested into Silicon Valley's gaping, proprietary maw

In a lead editorial in the current Nature, John Wilbanks (formerly head of Science Commons, now "Chief Commons Officer" for Sage Bionetworks) and Eric Topol (professor of genomics at the Scripps Institute) decry the mass privatization of health data by tech startups, who're using a combination of side-deals with health authorities/insurers and technological lockups to amass huge databases of vital health information that is not copyrighted or copyrightable, but is nevertheless walled off from open research, investigation and replication. Read the rest

Infested: an itchy, fascinating natural history of the bed bug

The resurgence of the bed bug caught modern civilization flatfooted: an ancient pestilence dating back to the Pharoahs, gone for two generations, has returned with a vengeance, infesting fancy hotels and slums alike, lining our streets with mattresses spraypainted with the warning BEDBUGS. Infested, science writer Brooke Borel's natural history of the bed bug, looks at the bug's insurgency as a scientific, cultural, and economic phenomenon, and will leave you itching with delight.

It's too late to do anything about sudden oak death, which has already killed 1,000,000 trees

Phytophthora ramorum is a mold, related to the Irish Potato Famine pathogen, that causes some oak and tanoak trees to split open and bleed out all their sap, something called "sudden oak death." Read the rest

Study: Dyson hand-dryers aerosolize germs on unwashed gloves, spreading them farther than other methods

In Evaluation of the potential for virus dispersal during hand drying: a comparison of three methods, published in The Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers from the University of Westminster showed that viruses applied to rubber gloves were aerosolized by Dyson Handblade hand-dryers and spread further than viruses and other germs would be by conventional hand-dryers or paper towels. Read the rest

Income inequality turns "neglected tropic diseases" into American diseases of "the poor living among the wealthy"

The deadly infectious diseases that were eradicated in America during the 20th century are now roaring back, thanks to growing poverty, failing sanitation, and underinvestment in science and health research and regulation. Read the rest

California officials warn anti-vaxxers to avoid Disneyland

Unvaccinated people are being officially warned by California epidemiologists to avoid Disneyland in the wake of a measles outbreak. In some counties in California, more than 1 in 5 kindergartners are unvaccinated due to "personal belief exemptions." Read the rest

Russia's population declined by 7m (5%) between 1992 and 2009

The decades since the collapse of the USSR are the longest period of depopulation in Russian history, and the first peacetime loss of that scale anywhere in the world. Booze, violence, obesity, and poor standard of living alone don't account for the mortality either. Read the rest

Does MERS come from bats? Or possibly, camels?

MERS — the deadly coronavirus related to SARS — has infected 77 people in the Middle East (that we're aware of) and killed half of them (as far as we know). Now, scientists are starting to look for its source and they're focusing in on two animals that have lots of opportunity to interact with local populations in Saudi Arabia, and other countries. Read the rest

You're not a doctor, but you can play one on the iPad

The Epidemic Intelligence Service is the crack CDC team that investigates new diseases. (If you want to read more about them, I'd recommend checking out Maryn McKenna's Beating Back the Devil.) Now, you can play Epidemic Intelligence operative at home, with the CDC's new iPad app game, Solve the Outbreak. Fulfill all your childhood, Hot Zone-induced fantasies! Read the rest

An epidemiology alphabet

Learn your letters — from "anthrax" to "zoonoses".

Who benefits if pubic waxing is an environmental catastrophe for crab-lice?

The crab-louse is in apparent decline, a situation that some doctors and entomologists attribute to widespread Brazilian waxing. Though, as Skepchick points out, there's a huge industry that stands to make a lot of money from this claim, and not a lot of evidence to back it up:

“Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations,” said Ian F. Burgess, a medical entomologist with Insect Research & Development Ltd. in Cambridge, England. “Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species.”

...“We put the flag out, so to speak, if we see a case of pubic lice nowadays,” [Janet Wilson, a consultant in sexual health and HIV] said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The ‘habitat destruction’ of the pubic lice is increasing and they are becoming an endangered species.”

Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species [Jason Gale & Shannon Pettypiece/Bloomberg]

(via Reddit)

(Image: Crab Louse (Phthirus pubis), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from euthman's photostream) Read the rest

Epidemic, or awareness?

Here's some evidence supporting the idea that the increase in autism diagnoses is just that — an increase in diagnoses, not an increase in incidence. Increases in autism diagnosis aren't evenly spread around the country. There are hotspots. Researchers found that kids who move into these hotspots — even after an age where autism might have been normally diagnosed — have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with autism than kids to didn't. It suggests that awareness and resources might play a big role in rates of autism diagnosis. (Via Micah Allen) Read the rest

A video featuring "Vomiting Larry"

Meet the robot that pukes for science.

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