New York City makes measles vaccine mandatory following spike in cases
2019 is on track to becoming a record-high year for measles cases in the U.S.
- Residents in parts of New York City will be required to get the measles vaccine or face a fine of $1,000.
- New York City has reported more than 280 measles cases since an outbreak struck an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community last fall.
- Nationally, there have been more than 460 measles cases so far in 2019.
Residents in select parts of New York City will be required to get vaccinated for measles following a spike in reported cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday.
De Blasio declared a public health emergency for select zip codes in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, home to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community with a large concentration of unvaccinated people. Adults and children who choose not to get vaccinated are prohibited from entering schools, and adults could face fines up to $1,000.
"This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately," Mr. de Blasio said at a press conference. "The measles vaccine works. It is safe. It is effective. It is time-tested."
The Brooklyn cases were traced back to an unvaccinated child who contracted measles during a trip to Israel, the Washington Post reports. New York City has reported a total of 285 measles cases since an outbreak struck last fall, the New York Times reports.
Nationally, measles cases rose by 78 last week, raising the total number of 465 measles cases across the country so far in 2019, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. That number already exceeds the 372 cases the country reported for all of 2018, and it's "the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000," CDC officials said Monday.
"The numbers serve as a kick in the butt that says, hey, we probably should start paying attention to vaccination again," Ogbonnaya Omenka, an assistant professor at Butler University who has a doctorate in public health, told USA TODAY. "One of the most challenging aspects of public health is balancing between individual liberty, for people who don't want the vaccine for whatever reason, and what is best for everyone."
A total of 19 states have reported measles cases this year. Federal health officials said these outbreaks likely stemmed from unvaccinated travelers who contracted measles abroad and returned to the U.S. where they inadvertently spread the virus in communities where anti-vaccination sentiment runs strong.
One thing that's obstructing communities nationwide from reaching herd immunity — the level of immunization a population needs to achieve to prevent the spread of the virus — is doctors who liberally prescribe children medical exemptions from vaccination. In California, for instance, children can only attend public schools without vaccinations if they receive a doctor-prescribed medical exemption. But, as a recent Vice report describes, some parents are skirting the law by finding doctors willing to write unnecessary medical exemptions, or hand them out for cash, both of which lead to high shares of unvaccinated kids in schools.
"We cannot allow a small number of unethical physicians to put our children back at risk," said State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). "It's time to stop fake medical exemptions and the doctors who are selling them."
Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!
As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.
Having these financial life skills can help you navigate challenging economic environments.
- Americans are swimming in increasingly higher amounts of debt, even the upper middle class.
- For many, this burden can be alleviated by becoming familiar with some straightforward financial concepts.
- Here's some essential financial life skills needed to ensure your economic wellbeing.
Here's the first evidence to challenge the "fastest sperm" narrative.
Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.
- The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
- Researchers speculate it could be a previously unknown species and one of humanity's earliest evolutionary ancestors.
- These fossils may change how we view the evolution of our species.
Homo sapiens have been on earth for 200,000 years — give or take a few ten-thousand-year stretches. Much of that time is shrouded in the fog of prehistory. What we do know has been pieced together by deciphering the fossil record through the principles of evolutionary theory. Yet new discoveries contain the potential to refashion that knowledge and lead scientists to new, previously unconsidered conclusions.
A set of 8-million-year-old teeth may have done just that. Researchers recently inspected the upper and lower jaw of an ancient European ape. Their conclusions suggest that humanity's forebearers may have arisen in Europe before migrating to Africa, potentially upending a scientific consensus that has stood since Darwin's day.
Rethinking humanity's origin story
The frontispiece of Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) sketched by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
As reported in New Scientist, the 8- to 9-million-year-old hominin jaw bones were found at Nikiti, northern Greece, in the '90s. Scientists originally pegged the chompers as belonging to a member of Ouranopithecus, an genus of extinct Eurasian ape.
David Begun, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, and his team recently reexamined the jaw bones. They argue that the original identification was incorrect. Based on the fossil's hominin-like canines and premolar roots, they identify that the ape belongs to a previously unknown proto-hominin.
The researchers hypothesize that these proto-hominins were the evolutionary ancestors of another European great ape Graecopithecus, which the same team tentatively identified as an early hominin in 2017. Graecopithecus lived in south-east Europe 7.2 million years ago. If the premise is correct, these hominins would have migrated to Africa 7 million years ago, after undergoing much of their evolutionary development in Europe.
Begun points out that south-east Europe was once occupied by the ancestors of animals like the giraffe and rhino, too. "It's widely agreed that this was the found fauna of most of what we see in Africa today," he told New Scientists. "If the antelopes and giraffes could get into Africa 7 million years ago, why not the apes?"
He recently outlined this idea at a conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
It's worth noting that Begun has made similar hypotheses before. Writing for the Journal of Human Evolution in 2002, Begun and Elmar Heizmann of the Natural history Museum of Stuttgart discussed a great ape fossil found in Germany that they argued could be the ancestor (broadly speaking) of all living great apes and humans.
"Found in Germany 20 years ago, this specimen is about 16.5 million years old, some 1.5 million years older than similar species from East Africa," Begun said in a statement then. "It suggests that the great ape and human lineage first appeared in Eurasia and not Africa."
Migrating out of Africa
In the Descent of Man, Charles Darwin proposed that hominins descended out of Africa. Considering the relatively few fossils available at the time, it is a testament to Darwin's astuteness that his hypothesis remains the leading theory.
Since Darwin's time, we have unearthed many more fossils and discovered new evidence in genetics. As such, our African-origin story has undergone many updates and revisions since 1871. Today, it has splintered into two theories: the "out of Africa" theory and the "multi-regional" theory.
The out of Africa theory suggests that the cradle of all humanity was Africa. Homo sapiens evolved exclusively and recently on that continent. At some point in prehistory, our ancestors migrated from Africa to Eurasia and replaced other subspecies of the genus Homo, such as Neanderthals. This is the dominant theory among scientists, and current evidence seems to support it best — though, say that in some circles and be prepared for a late-night debate that goes well past last call.
The multi-regional theory suggests that humans evolved in parallel across various regions. According to this model, the hominins Homo erectus left Africa to settle across Eurasia and (maybe) Australia. These disparate populations eventually evolved into modern humans thanks to a helping dollop of gene flow.
Of course, there are the broad strokes of very nuanced models, and we're leaving a lot of discussion out. There is, for example, a debate as to whether African Homo erectus fossils should be considered alongside Asian ones or should be labeled as a different subspecies, Homo ergaster.
Proponents of the out-of-Africa model aren't sure whether non-African humans descended from a single migration out of Africa or at least two major waves of migration followed by a lot of interbreeding.
Did we head east or south of Eden?
Not all anthropologists agree with Begun and his team's conclusions. As noted by New Scientist, it is possible that the Nikiti ape is not related to hominins at all. It may have evolved similar features independently, developing teeth to eat similar foods or chew in a similar manner as early hominins.
Ultimately, Nikiti ape alone doesn't offer enough evidence to upend the out of Africa model, which is supported by a more robust fossil record and DNA evidence. But additional evidence may be uncovered to lend further credence to Begun's hypothesis or lead us to yet unconsidered ideas about humanity's evolution.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.