The Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa. New Scientist reports it is the "deadliest ever," while LiveScience has a story explaining why it is unlikely that the virus will spread to the US (or spread widely, should it ever make it here via a single person).
Yet more examples of the difficulties in eradicating disease: A new case of polio was reported in Somalia, despite a 2013 campaign that targeted 4 million people with vaccines, reports GlobalPost. And the eradication of guinea worm faces obstacles in South Sudan, reports NewScientist.
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison created a strain of influenza in the lab very similar to the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people. Some mediafreaked out over the news; others said we shouldn't worry about it.
A new study says that delaying routine childhood vaccines provides no health benefit and can increase health risks, reports Scientific American.
Another new study claims that one-fifth of kids with persistent coughs in the UK might be suffering from pertussis infections, which may require changes in booster shot recommendations, also according to Scientific American.
The Washington Post has a great piece explaining why measles are an increasing problem despite high average vaccine rates.
And the vaccine wars may be extending into older generations. The New York Times has a story describing a grandfather-to-be who is skeptical of getting a Tdap vaccine, despite the wishes of his pregnant daughter and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In microbe news
The Food and Drug Administration approved new drugs that may treat antibiotic-resistant infections, report the New York Times and the Wire. Another drug, which may be able to treat MRSA in a single dose, may be approved in August, according to the Times.
Medicare plans to fine hospitals with high rates of hospital-acquired infections, NPR reports.
And the BBC reports that the spread of drug-resistant bacteria may get a boost from religious pilgrimages where hundreds of thousands to millions of people interact (this could be true for other mass gatherings, too).
In agriculture and plant news
A new model suggests that a decrease in milkweed may be hurting monarch butterflies in the US. The missing milkweed is likely due to agricultural practices. Ars Technica reports on the research and Nova Next has a story on how to help preserve the butterflies and milkweed.
Hillary Rosner has a great story in Wired about orphan crops, which may be increasingly important to the future of sustainable global agriculture.
Scientific American and the Center for Public Integrity have a long story about arsenic, agriculture, and the complicated tension between science and politics.
Nathanael Johnson at Grist has an interesting recap of a GMO discussion between Monsanto, an organic farmer, and the Center for Food Safety. He also has a piece on herbicide-tolerant superweeds, with insight from several plant scientists.
On the same topic, Wired has a long piece that highlights how complicated the story is regarding HT GMOs, particular the next generation.
There's a great piece at WaPo calling for a hybrid agricultural system that takes the best characteristics of organic and biotech.
Modern Farmer has a piece by Maryn McKenna about a Dutch pig farm that has forgone antibiotics. Is this a model for the future?
The infamous French study on GMOs and rat tumors reappears, publishing virtually unchanged in a different journal to muchcriticism.
And the Seriously Science blog at Discover reports that a repellant that smells like dog poop promises to keep sheep away from crops. (It'd keep me away, too).
BoingBoing's Maggie Koerth-Baker has a piece on the gypsy moth and how understanding endangered species can help get rid of invasives. And BoingBoing also has a gallery of 10 invasive species in the US.
The Economist and The Guardian both report on a GMO mosquito project that aims to force more male than female offspring, which could cause mosquito populations to crash. The goal is to help reduce the spread of malaria.