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The government of Samoa will shut down its offices for two days this week so civil servants can focus on a nationwide immunization drive after almost 4,000 confirmed cases of measles have swept across the small Pacific nation of just 200,000 people, as NPR reported. So far 55 people have died, 50 of them are children under four, according to The Guardian.
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(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC
The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.
By Julia Ries
- The measles virus was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.
- But if more cases of the measles virus are detected next month, it could mean an end of that elimination status.
- There have been more than 1,200 measles cases this year so far. That's the largest number of cases since 1992.
Facebook will take a stand against the dangerous practice of spreading misinformation about vaccines. The social media behemoth, which has served as an online meeting spot for spreading memes of misinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy, will now try to redirect consumers on its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, to reputable sites for information about vaccines, as the Guardian reported.
Genetics are significantly more responsible for driving autism spectrum disorders than maternal factors or environmental factors such as vaccines and chemicals, according to a massive new study involving more than 2 million people from five different countries.
By Vanessa Schipani, FactCheck.org
Q: Did people develop cancer because of the polio vaccine?
A: There are no known cases, and it's very unlikely. In the 1950s and 1960s, people did receive polio vaccines contaminated with a virus that causes cancer in rodents. But research suggests this virus doesn't cause cancer in humans.
By Kali Holloway
Some horror movie tropes just come off as unbelievable, they're so ridiculous and overused. Like, "Girl who falls down for no apparent reason while being chased by a killer." Or, "Group of friends that decides to split up when it's obvious being alone will get you murdered." And then there's this one: "Science laboratory creates horrible disease that will inevitably escape and kill all of humanity," which might be the most unbelievable, since it defies both logic and actual laws. Or rather, it did until Tuesday, when the U.S. government announced it was lifting a three-year ban on federal funding for experiments that alter viruses to make them even deadlier.
With a rough 2016 officially behind us, and a foreboding 2017 ahead, maybe we all need a good dose of 1990's nostalgia. This Spring, Bill Nye will make his long-awaited return to our screens with his new Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World.
The Science Guy and his band of correspondents—model Karlie Kloss, Xploration Outer Space host Emily Calandrelli, comedians Joanna Hausmannm and Nazeem Hussain, and Veritasium host Derek Muller—will explore some of the most complex scientific topics of the day, from climate change, vaccines and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
While Netflix first announced the show in late August, Nye's comeback seems all the more fitting with Donald Trump's presidential inauguration this Jan. 20.
"Each episode will tackle a topic from a scientific point of view, dispelling myths, and refuting anti-scientific claims that may be espoused by politicians, religious leaders or titans of industry," Netflix stated in a press release.
Trump, as any EcoWatch reader knows, is just about as anti-science as it gets. The president-elect has plans to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, undo President Obama's signature Clean Power Plan and other environmental initiatives, and has nominated an entire cabinet of fossil fuel "puppets" and executives.
Nye came to fame in the 1990s as the host and creator of Bill Nye the Science Guy. The bowtie-wearing educator taught his young audience about the joys and importance of science and engineering.
We doubt that Trump will be streaming the new show, but Nye does intend to appeal to a wide audience.
"Since the start of the Science Guy show, I've been on a mission to change the world by getting people everywhere excited about the fundamental ideas in science," he said in the press release.
"Today, I'm excited to be working with Netflix on a new show, where we'll discuss the complex scientific issues facing us today, with episodes on vaccinations, genetically modified foods and climate change," he added. "With the right science and good writing, we'll do our best to enlighten and entertain our audience. And, perhaps we'll change the world a little."
Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air - not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2014
Since Science Guy came off the air in 1998 after five seasons, Nye has made numerous appearances on television shows and online videos as a science commentator and outspoken environmental advocate.
Earlier this year, the educational icon famously bet climate change denier Marc Morano $20,000 that 2016 will be among the hottest on record and that this decade will be record hot. Morano turned down the bet, claiming that it's "obvious" that scientific data will show warming, implying that the data would be doctored.
2016, of course, is officially the hottest year ever recorded, scientists have determined.
Top Climate Denier Turns Down $20k Bet From Bill Nye https://t.co/yp6aqrQwYk @climate_rev @BraveNewClimate
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) April 13, 2016
In an interview with Huffington Post Live, Nye explained that "GMOs are not inherently bad. We are able to feed 7.2 billion people, which a century and a half ago you could barely feed 1.5 billion people and [it's] largely because of the success of modern farming."
However, Nye cautioned that introducing new organisms into the ecosystem can have "unintended consequences."
"My take on it now is genetically modified food is actually, in general—genetically modified plants, in general—are not only not harmful, they're actually a great benefit. However, you can't just go planting enormous monocultures and killing everything and expect the ecosystems to take it," he said.