Are you people nuts?

Obviously not you people who read this, I was referring to these people. For those that don’t do links the story is about a group who having decided that they don’t trust the very effective and safe chicken pox vaccine and instead not satisfied with organizing a get together at a public venue like McDonalds so their and other children get exposed to a child who currently has has chicken pox.  Did the last fifty years of public health and science just pass these people by, did somehow the 20th century not happen for these people?

Whats worse is instead of hooking up on the new social media ie Facebook to arrange these parties,

I am trying to put together a chicken pox party and am looking for someone to donate their chicken pox to the event. i was thinking of having it at McDonsals or some place with toys to play on. if you know of anyone who would like to contribute or would like more information on a time and place let me know….”


now we even have these folk you don’t trust them modern doctor types who,  on a request from a parent will send lollipops that have been licked by children currently suffering chicken pox through the GODDAM POSTAL SERVICE! 


“after a woman in Nashville, Tenn., advertisedlollipops contaminated with the varicella virus on Facebook. The tainted popswere intended for parents who want to expose their children to thedisease. A Nashville TV station spotted the woman’s posts, in which shealso offered to ship spit and cotton swabs, all for a mere $50, payable throughPayPal. The woman, Wendy Werkit told WSMV reporter Kimberly Curth that she hadshipped lollipops that had been sucked on by her children, “so that otherpeoples’ kids can get chickenpox.”

I have been unable to link to a facebook site promoting chicken pox parties, only a link to an interest site that warns about the danger, and one that links to a online game starring a cartoon chicken called Pox,  so I am hoping this is all some kind of twisted hoax but there is no mention of it on the scopes urban myth website.

So these folk don’t trust the varicella vaccine developed in 1995 and shown to be safe and effective, however they will trust some one so clueless as to send a biologically invective sample unsecured through the mail. As others have pointed out, including a US prosecutor, this is effectively what we all feared bioterrorists would do.

Dr Rafael Harpaz, epidemiologist for the Centres of Disease Control was much more restrained than I would be when he said ‘Its an incredibly bad idea for a variety of reasons…. Before the vaccine was licenced, there were on the order of 100 kids (in the US) who died of chicken pox every year. Now there are very few among vaccinated children…Its like playing Russian roulette with your child’.

I was going to post about the family fun Friday movie the_weapon, my_reason_for_living and I went to see  Contagion. But I will leave that for another day.


>Hug me I’m Vaccinated

>

“Look its Patient Zero, TAKE’ HER DOWN!”

Are you noticing lots of people coughing, spluttering, complaining of sniffles and worse SNEEZING? Everyday on the train into the city a half a dozen people in my carriage release a mighty, droplet-riddled – ACHOO, and I think

 ‘is this it? is this Patient Zero of the next great pandemic?’ 

What is the correct etiquette in this situation? pass them a hanky, douse them in disinfectant, yell at them “way to to doom the planet sneezy.”

This week saw 4197 cases of Whooping Cough (Pertussis) since the start of the year in Victoria. This is twice the numbers for the same period in 2010. The Chief Health Officer of Victoria provided these figures

In 2008 there were 1673 cases
2009 there were 3736
2010 a total of 6736

anyone else spotting a trend here?


My reason_for_living, a mild mannered academic at a major metropolitan university, (that’s a fib she’s never been mild mannered) was notified of a case of diphtheria in the university. That’s right

DIPHFRAKINGTHERIA

The New South Wales health department describes this disease as

As a contagious and potentially life threatening bacterial  infection, a common cause of death in children up   until the 1940s but has now almost  disappeared in Australia due to immunization     

I expect Tetanus to start rearing its ugly jaw locking head any day. 

If only there was some effective regime we as a society could adopt to prevent these terrible disease from ravaging across our civilization? There is its called VACCINATION.  Perhaps a schedule like the one listed here given to all children. Its called the National Immunization Program Schedule. So why isn’t it working? I tell you why its because ….

Immunization is a victim of its own success, we don’t see children suffering from these diseases anymore so we have become complacent. Which allows the efforts of the deliberately miss-titled Australian Vaccination network to spread lies and fears of the risk of immunization. This organisation headed by the appalling Meryl Dorey whose rants against immunization are so bizarre, on one occasion likening a vaccination of a child to rape, leads me to suspect she may suffer from some form of twisted Piquerism. Then there is the work of ex Doctor Andrew Wakefield whose fraudulent study proposing a link between the UK MMR vaccine and Autism lead to a boom in cases of measles. Plus the Tree-change, we live in a fairy tale mind state in rural New South Wales and don’t believe in Western Medicine type. 


When I took the_weapon in to get this years flu shot I discovered the booster for tetanus I got after my motorbike accident only covered me for Tetanus and Diphtheria. So I paid the $40 for the booster and received the most painless vaccination ever. At the moment the health department is offering the booster free to new parents in an effort to get this outbreak under control and reduce the risk to new borns.

I’d like to think in some office in the Health Department there is a big transparent plasma screen like the one you see in all the high tech movies, with a outline of the state, highlighting the reported infections. Down one side a series of numbers recording the tally and plotting against previously calculated intervention points which automatically trip increasing levels of free immunizations.


At this level the standard childhood immunizations,  at this level parents of newborns, now people working with children, the vulnerable and finally in a desperate attempt to stop the spread free to everyone. 


Of course its not like that, and I worry that our health services are desperately under funded and people don’t realize the risk or appreciate how long it took us to reign in these terrible scourges and how this brief respite in the history of civilization could end and we could return to tiny babies gasping for breath due to whooping cough.  


We shouldn’t have to go backwards, we shouldn’t have to learn this stuff all over again.





We got it right this time

Today I took the_weapon to get the latest influenza vaccine that’s become available this past week at the local medical centre. For $14 not only does he get increased protection against the (hopefully) upcoming seasonal flu but it also includes the H1N1 Vaccine so he has some protection against swine flu as well.

As a fan of those films where threats to humanity are faced off by steely eyed, squared jawed, well trained and well resourced team of professionals who have plans and contingencies ready to enact at the first sign of a threat. So I was kinda pleased how the health community and the public organised in response to the threat swine flu posed.

I realise its not over yet and some will claim that it was no big deal and we over reacted. To those I offer the following from the latest Australian Influenza report

In 2010, as at 5 March, there have been 50 confirmed cases of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza reported in Australia, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 37,686 since 2009.

Or as more graphically put by the CDC in the United States.
For a parent these are chilling numbers, but they are only numbers. The late epidemiologist Irving Selikoff once referred to a statistic as “people with the tears wiped away.” A friend, referring to someone who lost a child, shook his head and just said, “It’s off the scale.”

Flintheart over on his blog was talking about “The thing is, Stupid only has to win big once, and that’s your whole fucking life trashed, right there” I have to say we as a society are doing the stupid when we allow vaccination levels to drop.

I was hearted to hear from the receptionist behind the counter that they had been really busy with people getting vaccinations. There is hope yet for us as a species. Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy notwithstanding.

This week we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny, and helped usher in a future brighter than anything we could imagine.

1st WIN
The BBC has reported UK General Medical Council (GMC) has found that Dr Andrew Wakefield acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” when doing the research that led him to conclude that MMR vaccinations were linked with autism.

Dr Wakefield published a paper in the peer reviewed medical journal the Lancet 351 (9103): 637–41 in Feburary 1998 titled ‘Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children.’

What did he do wrong?

The panel found that his research (involving spinal taps of children) was against the children’s clinical interest, that he was unqualified to perform the test, and that he had no ethical approval to do them.

Since then 10 of the 13 authors have retracted the conclusions. Alsoevidence has come to light that that Dr Wakefield may have faked the results of the study. Also he failed at the time he was conducting his research to declare his conflict of interests that he was being paid to develop his own commercial rival to the MMR vaccine.

This paper launched the Vaccines cause Autism scare, which has and is still leading to people to not get their children vaccinated, which has lead to a reduction in herd immunity which has meant that children too young to yet be vaccinated are exposed to diseases which had, at least in western countries, almost disappeared as cause of death. If you think that parents who don’t get their children vaccinated only endanger their own kids read this letter and if your heart doesn’t break then you are not human. And I know the plural of anaecdote is not fact so here is the report from the Age last year showing in Australia the rise in reported cases of measles (measles for Frak sake) is on the rise.

2nd win
No doubt in an attempt to put this whole thing to bed The Lancet has formally retracted the paper published by Andrew Wakefield back in 1998 that linked vaccines with autism. From the Lancet..

Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.

3rd win

Perhaps the sweetest is this tit bit of news posted by the young Skeptics. Meryl Dorey the anti-science nutter who was best described by the Australian skeptics as “the truth-impaired mouthpiece of the Australian Vaccination Network, a group of antivaccination conspiracy-mongers who couldn’t find reality with both hands, a compass, and detailed instructions” has said

“..After almost 17 years of running the AVN, it is my bittersweet duty to inform you that within the next 3–4 weeks I will tendering my resignation as President of this great organisation and moving on to the next stage of my own personal development as mother, wife, activist and researcher”.

Ms Dorey was the one on national television said “no one dies from pertussis anymore” even when the parents of the four-week-old Dana McCaffrey who died of that very disease were in the audience.

So after all of this you would hope the Anti Vaccine movement would be on its last legs.


Pigs arse

The GMC panel chairman was heckled by supporters of Dr Andrew Wakefield during his delivery of the verdicts.

People, children are dying and it’s because of bad thinking.
We must stop this, and the first step is to be aware of the problem. Knowledge is half the battle. If we can’t eliminate childhood diseases like this then how do we hope to prevent to spread of Zombie virus across the planet when it occurs?