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U.S. health officials say that between January and March, 387 cases of measles have been reported in 15 states, exceeding the count for all of last year. In 2018, 372 cases were reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Public health authorities worry about outbreaks in communities where vaccination rates are low, fueled by a growing movement of people who view the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella as dangerous. The measles component of the vaccine has been in widespread use since the 1960s, and medical experts say the MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective.
“We have growing pockets of susceptibility,” said epidemiologist Arthur Reingold of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, as the virus is carried from regions where measles is more widespread. “When we do have someone travel from New York to Israel or from Europe to Disneyland or whatever you envision, we have the opportunity for much larger outbreaks.”
Measles deaths declined worldwide from 550,000 in 2000 to 110,000 in 2017. Public health officials say the vaccine is the reason. The World Health Organization says measles immunizations prevented 21 million deaths between 2000 and 2017.
The organization says more than 95 percent of such deaths occur in countries with low per capita incomes and poor health infrastructure.
In 2017, however, 20 million infants did not receive at least one of the recommended two doses of the measles vaccine, putting their communities at risk. India, Pakistan and Nigeria are among the countries with large concentrations of unvaccinated children.
In the United States, where the inoculations are widely available, anti-vaccine sentiment has led to children at risk of contracting measles. The disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000.
The anti-vaccine movement gained momentum when a 1998 study — which was later retracted — linked autism, a developmental disability, to the MMR vaccine that inoculates against measles, mumps and rubella.
Repeated studies have shown no link between vaccines and autism, says infectious disease expert Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.
“The scientific community responded with studies involving hundreds of thousands of children,” he said. “And we’ve clearly shown that children who get the MMR vaccine are no more likely to get autism than children who don’t.” He added that children with autism were no more likely to have received the vaccine than those without the condition.
This issue is personal for Hotez, whose grown daughter has autism. He has laid out his evidence in the book “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism.”
Critics are unconvinced. “Nobody can scientifically say whether the MMR is actually causing more harm than measles, mumps and rubella,” maintains Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an activist attorney. “The reason for that is, like other vaccines,” he said, “it’s not required to be safety tested.”
It is true that vaccines have not been subjected to double-blind tests, medical experts say, tracking children who have received the vaccine against others who have not, with parents unaware of which children were vaccinated. The experts say that in the United States, measles typically kills one in 1,000 who contract it, and mortality is far higher in the developing world, so a controlled trial would put many children at risk.
Major medical groups and public health agencies agree, says epidemiologist Arthur Reingold.
The “CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), WHO or the American Academy of Pediatrics are all in total agreement about the benefits of vaccination against measles and other diseases radically outweighing any conceivable risks,” he said.
The CDC says that study after study has verified the safety of the measles vaccine, and that the risk of severe allergic reaction is one in a million.
Growing numbers of unvaccinated children have given measles a foothold in the United States and Europe, however. Vulnerable communities include tightly knit or isolated groups, for example, of the Amish in Ohio, Orthodox Jews in New York, and eastern European immigrants in Washington State.
California, Mississippi and West Virginia have responded by refusing exemptions from vaccination, except for medical reasons. Forty-seven states allow broader exemptions.
“Of those 47,” Hotez said, “there are 18 that also allow non-medical exemptions for reasons of personal or philosophical belief, and that’s where the battleground is.”
He says misinformation about vaccine safety is spread on the web and through books sold on Amazon, while medical experts face more difficulty in having their message heard.
“We’re looking at over 500 anti-vaccine websites that are out there,” he said, adding that each of them is “amplified on Facebook and other forms of social media.” Hotez says vaccine opponents tailor their message by region.
“So with Texas, they see the soft underbelly being the far political right, the Tea Party, and they use Tea Party language,” he said. “Up in the Pacific Northwest, in Washington State or Oregon, they might use language of the far left.”
Kennedy says the CDC works hand in hand with the industry and hides the risks. “The parents should know more about what’s good for that child than corrupted regulatory agencies and big pharmaceutical companies,” he said.
Medical experts worldwide say the MMR vaccine is essential for public health because measles is highly contagious and potentially deadly, and one infected person may infect three others.
“Then, each of those three people might infect three other people,” said Arthur Reingold. “And then another generation after that. Each of those people might infect some other people, and we could end up having sustained transmission.”
Health experts say that could bring a return to conditions of decades ago, when measles killed millions of children each year around the world. (VOA)
Apple has updated its App Store rules to allow developers to contact users directly about payments, a concession in a legal settlement with companies challenging its tightly controlled marketplace.
According to App Store rules updated Friday, developers can now contact consumers directly about alternate payment methods, bypassing Apple's commission of 15 or 30%.
They will be able to ask users for basic information, such as names and e-mail addresses, "as long as this request remains optional", said the iPhone maker.
Apple proposed the changes in August in a legal settlement with small app developers.
But the concession is unlikely to satisfy firms like "Fortnite" developer Epic Games, with which the tech giant has been grappling in a drawn-out dispute over its payments policy.
Epic launched a case aiming to break Apple's grip on the App Store, accusing the iPhone maker of operating a monopoly in its shop for digital goods or services.
In September, a judge ordered Apple to loosen control of its App Store payment options, but said Epic had failed to prove that antitrust violations had taken place.
For Epic and others, the ability to redirect users to an out-of-app payment method is not enough: it wants players to be able to pay directly without leaving the game.
Both sides have appealed.
Apple is also facing investigations from US and European authorities that accuse it of abusing its dominant position. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Apple, App store, Epic, Games
Instagram (often abbreviated as IG or Insta) is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the market. It was a huge success right from the start, with more than a million users in only two months after it was launched. With individuals from all over the world posting photographs practically every second of the day, it is also one of the most popular social media platforms available. It is a picture and video social networking website based in the United States and owned by Facebook.
Instagram was created in San Francisco by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who worked together. Systrom was employed in marketing at the time, but he would learn how to code at night. He developed a prototype app for the concept, originally called "Burbn"; people could use this app to check-in to their location. Systrom attended a party where he met individuals who worked for venture capitalist firms and persuaded them to meet with him to promote Burbn. As soon as the first meeting concluded, he stepped down from his job, and two weeks later, he had collected $500,000 in funding from companies.
Instagram (often abbreviated as IG or Insta) is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the market. | Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
At this time, Systrom decided to form a team to help him further, so Mike Krieger chose to join. They concluded that the app was too similar to other preexisting mobile applications; therefore, they emphasized exclusively on visual communication. Apart from posting pictures, commenting, and liking, they removed all other services from the app. "Instagram" was chosen as the app's name since it corresponded to the fact that users were sending a kind of "instant telegram."
Instagram was launched on the 6th of October, 2010, and its popularity grew almost immediately. It quickly rose to become the most popular photography app following the launch, gaining 100,000 users in one week and reaching 1 million users within two months. Later, in 2012, it was purchased by Facebook for 1 billion dollars. Currently, it has more than 600 million active users, and the number is still steadily growing.
Keywords: Instagram, Instagram login, telegram, facebook, history, social media
India is known for its pickles, popularly called 'Achaar', even across the world. But who thought about the idea of pickles in the first place? Apparently, the idea of making pickles first came from the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia, where archaeologists have found evidence of cucumbers being soaked in vinegar. This was done to preserve it, but the practice has spread all over the world today, that pickles mean so much more than just preserved vegetables.
In India, the idea of pickle has nothing to do with preservation, rather pickle is a side dish that adds flavour and taste to almost anything. In Punjab, parathas are served with pickle; in the south, pickle and curd rice is a household favourite, and in Andhra, it is a staple, eaten with everything. The flavour profile of pickles in each state is naturally different, suited to each cuisine's taste. Pickles are soaked in oil and salt for at least a month, mixed with spices and stored all year round. Mango season is often synonymous with pickle season as a majority of Indians love mango pickle. In the coastal cities, pickles are even made out of fish and prawns.
The Indian Achaar Image credit: Photo by Rahat Hossen on Unsplash
In other cultures, the pickling process has more to do with preservation. Cold countries, where temperatures drop to very low levels, pickle their vegetables in brine, vinegar, or salt. Sweden is famous for pickled herring, because fishing all year round is hard with all the snow and ice. The German Sauerkraut, originally composed of rice, cabbage, and wine, is now made using salt instead of wine. This gives it a sour flavour that is characteristic of the beloved German delicacy.
In Korea, kimchi is the national delicacy. It is a pickle that is made from pickled cabbages with a distinct mix of spices. Kimchi is made with various core ingredients, and is gaining popularity these days with the Korean Wave hitting the globe. It is a practice that represents the Korean winters, which are too harsh to grow anything. The Kimchi business is one of the largest in Korea, while the individual family recipes are also well-preserved as it is believed that each is unique in its own way.
The pickles made from dill and vinegar are most famous in America. It was introduced to the Americans by the Jewish immigrants. Dill pickles are best paired with sandwiches.
Keywords: Pickles, Culture, Brine, Vinegar, Preserves