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Science Ticker

Measles has been eliminated in the Americas, WHO says

baby with measles

MEASLES NO MORE  The highly infectious disease, which is marked by flat red spots that can cover the body, has been eliminated from the Americas after decades of wide-spread vaccination.

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A half-century after scientists first introduced a vaccine to combat measles, the disease has been eliminated from a swath of the globe stretching from Canada to Chile — and all the countries in between.

The region is the first in the world to have eliminated the viral disease, the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization announced September 27. That’s different from eradication, which means an infectious disease has been scrubbed out permanently, worldwide. So far, only smallpox has been eradicated.

Though measles outbreaks still crop up occasionally in the Americas (this year 54 people have contracted the disease in the United States), they stem from travelers bringing the virus in from other parts of the world. A home-grown outbreak in the Americas hasn’t occurred since a 2002 outbreak in Venezuela.

Because measles still circulates widely elsewhere, vaccination remains crucial, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne noted in a press statement. “Our work on this front is not yet done,” she said. “We cannot become complacent with this achievement but must rather protect it carefully.”

Planetary Science

A salty sea could lurk beneath the heart of Pluto

By Christopher Crockett 5:00pm, September 23, 2016
An ocean more than 100 kilometers thick might hide beneath Pluto’s surface.
Archaeology,, Computing

Digital rehab exposes Biblical roots of ancient Israeli scroll

By Bruce Bower 2:00pm, September 21, 2016
Virtual unwrapping reveals Biblical text on charred remains of ancient Israeli scroll.
Climate,, Oceans

Arctic sea ice shrinks to second-lowest low on record

By Thomas Sumner 5:18pm, September 19, 2016
A warm summer helped shrink sea ice in the Arctic Ocean to a statistical tie with 2007 for the second smallest sea ice minimum on record.
Animals,, Evolution

Hawaiian crows ace tool-user test

By Susan Milius 2:59pm, September 14, 2016
The almost-extinct Hawaiian crow joins the small, select flock of birds shown to use sticks tools routinely and well to wiggle bits of food out of crevices.
Planetary Science

Source of Charon’s red north pole is probably Pluto

By Christopher Crockett 1:00pm, September 14, 2016
The dark red pole on Charon, the largest moon of Pluto, is probably gas that escaped from Pluto and was then transformed by sunlight.
Planetary Science

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launches tonight for mission to grab asteroid sample

By Christopher Crockett 6:00am, September 8, 2016
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is about to launch for a seven-year mission to study the asteroid Bennu and bring samples of the space rock back to Earth.
Paleontology,, Animals

Jurassic ichthyosaur dubbed ‘Storr Lochs Monster’ unveiled

By Meghan Rosen 9:26am, September 7, 2016
A rare, 170-year-old skeleton discovered in Scotland is one of the best-preserved ichthyosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic.
Planetary Science

Rosetta spots Philae lander on surface of comet 67P

By Christopher Crockett 12:33pm, September 6, 2016
Missing since November 2014, the Philae comet lander has been found lurking in the shadows on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Animals,, Anthropology

Bonobos rival chimps at the art of cracking oil palm nuts

By Bruce Bower 6:00am, September 5, 2016
Bonobos demonstrate their overlooked nut-cracking skills in an African sanctuary.
Chemistry,, Science & Society

FDA bans chemicals in antibacterial soaps

By Helen Thompson 4:49pm, September 2, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled against 19 antibacterial soap ingredients, citing insufficient evidence of bacteria-killing and safety problems.
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