Immunology

In 2008, President Obama suggested vaccines might be causing autism. In 2009, during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, there was quickly a vaccine shortage, because the government refused to allow adjuvants, to boost vaccine effectiveness and use less raw material, or multi-dose vials, because they contained a preservative anti-vaccine believers claimed caused autism. 274,000 Americans were hospitalized.

Credit: L. Sabetelli / Wellcome, CC BY

The Black Death struck Europe in 1347, killing 30-50% of the European population in six violent years.

It wasn’t a one-off epidemic: it signaled the start of the second plague pandemic in Europe that lasted for hundreds of years and only slowly disappeared from the continent after the Great Plague of London in 1665-1666.

New evidence finds that the majority of infants at high-risk of developing an allergy to peanuts are protected from peanut allergy at age 5 years if they eat peanut frequently starting within the first 11 months of life. 
A survey asking if people took a flu vaccine revealed some interesting statistics - if their physician specifically recommended it, they were far more likely to have gotten one and vaccination rates among African-Americans was a low 62 percent.

90 percent of patients received vaccination if their physician advocated for it compared to 58 percent of patients whose physician did not, the results showed. Vaccination rates in European-Americans were 93 percent and in Asian-Americans 84 percent. Vaccination rates were 4X higher among patients who believed vaccination protected them than those who thought otherwise.
There are many hypotheses about genetic advantages of sexual reproduction but none have been proven in humans.

The researchers of a new study say they have done so, showing how humanity’s predispositions to disease gradually decrease the more we mix our genetic material together. That's right, sex leads to less disease, at least for a species. Obviously sleeping around individually is going to get you sent to a clinic. 

The bacteria living in your gut have more to do with your immune system than you might think. Shutterstock

Your intestines are home to many different kinds of bacteria (and some non-bacterial organisms as well). Together they’re called the “gut microbiome.”

They come from the food you eat – and whatever else gets into your mouth. Bacteria start colonizing your gut at birth.

In this century, vaccine denial is primarily located in progressive hotbeds of states like California, rooted in distrust of science. It's an embarrassment for Democrats, who pride themselves on being more scientific than Republicans, to see that right-wing states like Mississippi and Alabama have negligible exemption rates while supposedly more educated places like California, Washington and Oregon lead the charge in bringing back dangerous infectious diseases.

Don't look so worried Cromwell, she's just asleep. BBC/Company Productions Ltd

By Derek Gatherer, Lecturer at Lancaster University.

In the first episode of BBC historical drama Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel’s novel of the same name, Thomas Cromwell returns home to find his wife and two daughters have all died during the night, victims of a pestilence – the “sweating sickness” – that is scything through the Tudor world.

Skin provides an essential protective barrier against foreign materials and pathogens and helps the body retain various fluids and electrolytes. When that barrier is damaged, the consequences can be devastating. Ulcers, bleeding and bacterial infections may result and the chances of these occurring increases the longer wounds remain open. 

Fortunately, epithelial cell sheets are self-repairing. The moment the integrity of the barrier is compromised, cellular mechanisms are initiated to close the gap. Cells begin crawling forward, and contractile cables are formed in the cells surrounding the wound to help pull the gap closed.

Bird flu: Livestock and farmers most at risk. Shutterstock

By Derek Gatherer, Lancaster University