BioBlog

What happened to the Neanderthals?

Alison Campbell Jun 12, 2019

One of the questions students often ask, when we’re discussing human evolution, is “what happened to the Neanderthals?” After all, this was a large-brained species closely related to our own, with some fairly complex tool technologies and the ability to survive (and thrive) in harsh environmental conditions. Yet they appear to have been replaced by anatomically-modern humans (in Europe, anyway) … Read More

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Measles infection and immune amnesia

Alison Campbell Jun 04, 2019

Measles infection has a couple of longer-term sequelae. One, SSPE, is thankfully rare (although for infants with measles the odds of subsequently developing SSPE are considerably higher than for other age groups). The other, “immune amnesia”, is strongly associated with having had measles, though this doesn’t stop those opposed to vaccination claiming otherwise. In 2015, Mina et al. published … Read More

The package insert: misunderstood and misrepresented

Alison Campbell May 09, 2019

UNICEF estimates that in the period 2010-2017, 169 million children missed their first dose of the measles vaccine – that’s around 21 million children each year. Sadly, this has simply set the conditions for the measles outbreaks we’re seeing around the world, in high- and low-income countries alike. In the first three months of 2019, more than 110,000 measles … Read More

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Measles infection is not a cure for cancer

Alison Campbell Apr 30, 2019

We’re continuing to hear of new measles cases in New Zealand, most recently in this Stuff story about 4 new cases in Auckland (with the possibility that up to 1600 people may have been exposed). One of those ill with the disease is a 10-month-old child, too young to have received her first dose of the MMR vaccine. Completely predictably, … Read More

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Essential oils in the classroom: a rose (or other flowers) would smell as sweet

Alison Campbell Apr 08, 2019

A story about essential oils being used in classrooms hit the headlines this week. It described how an Auckland primary school had put diffusers into 20 classrooms, using oil blends that would supposedly “stop the spread of viruses and keep children focused at school.” A parent subsequently used the threat of a legal injunction to stop this practice, at … Read More

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Thoughts on a question about kākāpō

Alison Campbell Mar 21, 2019

My interest in kākāpō began way back in my honours year at uni: a guest speaker told us that as far as anybody knew, the last remaining birds were a few males, somewhere in Fiordland. I remember feeling that that sounded really sad – those lonely males booming for females who never came. Shortly after that, a relatively healthy population … Read More

A new critical analysis of the Wilyman thesis

Alison Campbell Mar 06, 2019

A few years back, University of Wollongong student Judy Wilyman received a PhD for a thesis that claimed to offer a “critical analysis of the Australian government’s rationale for its vaccination policy.” Both the thesis, and the processes at Wollongong in relation to PhD study and examination, attracted a considerable amount of scrutiny and criticism (see here … Read More

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