BioBlog

Measles: a ‘gotcha’ moment that is nothing of the sort

Alison Campbell Sep 12, 2019

On Monday this week, Seven Sharp carried the story of a Whangārei school where so many of the students are immunised that the school has attained herd immunity against measles. This is an enviable achievement – tautoko, Hora Hora Primary School! Most of the comments are strongly supportive at the moment, but – predictably, not all. Including one, … Read More

Measles & cancer, part 2

Alison Campbell Sep 09, 2019

I’ve written previously about an anti-vaxx plague enthusiast claim that measles can cure cancer (it doesn’t). However, it seems that the search for positive attributes for a measles infection knows little bounds. Thus a friend shared this with me – it’s something posted by an antivaxxer in a FB thread: Presumably this is an example of having … Read More

Measles: NOT a “benign childhood disease”

Alison Campbell Sep 02, 2019

Pretty much everyone in NZ should be aware by now that the country is facing its biggest measles outbreak in years, with Counties Manukau being particularly hard-hit. Here’s the data for the week ending August 23rd, from ESR’s Public Health Surveillance page: This hasn’t stopped those opposed to vaccination plague enthusiasts pushing all their usual tropes, … Read More

A new study on the heritability of autism spectrum disorder

Alison Campbell Jul 25, 2019

Science has known for a while now that there is a strong genetic component in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), although those opposed to vaccination tend to deny this. (David Gorski points this out in his commentary on this new 2019 paper.) In this paper, Bai et al. cite data from a meta-analysis of twin studies that estimated the heritability … Read More

Plague enthusiasts: do they assume no-one checks?

Alison Campbell Jul 19, 2019

One of the things that strikes me about the commenters actively opposing vaccinations – e.g. on the many news stories about NZ’s measles outbreak – is their continued readiness to state and repeat mistruths and inaccuracies. You see it all the time, and I have to wonder – is there just this underlying assumption that no-one will actually check? … Read More

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