The New York Times is reporting that the State of Washington has been hit by a whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic that has hit 1,284 individuals in 2012, 10 times the 128 seen at this point in 2011. At this rate, there could be over 3000 cases by the end of 2012. Of those infected so far in 2012, 86 infants (under age of 1 year) required hospitalization, including 19 of whom were under 2 months. Pertussis immunization, with the DTaP vaccine, does not confer full immunity to the child until the third vaccination at 6 months of age, during which the infant is susceptible to catching the disease from adults with lapsed immunity or other children who are not vaccinated. However, even children with the first vaccination have some immunity, so the infection could be milder than in a child without any vaccination. Continue reading “Whooping cough: Washington State lacks funds to fight epidemic”
The Johnson County (Kansas) Department of Health and Environment has reported 70 confirmed or possible cases of whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) in 2012. Johnson County, an affluent suburb of Kansas City, officials have warned parents to protect their children from the disease and are asking that all confirmed or suspected cases be reported immediately. The health department is offering the DTaP vaccine, regardless of insurance, to pregnant women, women with infants under the age of one year and those over the age of 18 who care for or have close contact with children less than six years old.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes uncontrollable and often violent coughing spasms that can make it difficult for the infected to breathe. It can cause permanent disability in infants. Because infants do not get their first vaccination until 2 months, and may not be completely immune until the third dose, usually given at around six months old. Until that point, an adult with lapsed pertussis immunity or an nonimmunized individual may pass the disease to the infant. Infants need to get the vaccine. And adults too.
Remember, vaccines save lives.
Rooting out pseudoscience out in the world is a full time job for literally hundreds of people, but many of the writers out there tend to focus on a few things. This blog, for example, mostly focuses on creationism, the anti-vaccine lunacy, and rarely, global warming. Creationism, for example, has a long tradition of pseudoscience, so the arguments debunking creationism is well known, and the creationists more or less rely upon the age old fallacies, which convince the True Believers™ but make real scientists chuckle. It has really evolved (pun intended) to a static argument but there is no scientific controversy, it’s just evolution denialists on one side and real science on the other. If this were a real debate, it would be over and the creationists would be crawling back home in tears. Continue reading “Pseudoscience and the desperate anti-vaccine intrigue”
Sadly, whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) has killed an infant in San Miguel County, New Mexico. According to the New Mexico Department of Public Health said that it was the first time that an infant in the state has died from pertussis since 2005. The infant was two months old, and had been given the first of three doses of the DTaP vaccine, which immunizes children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The vaccine doesn’t induce a sufficient immune response until the third dose, which is given at around 6 months, so infants are at risk from being infected by the bacteria. The only way the infant could have contracted whooping cough was from another infected person, like an adult (whose immunity has lapsed) or an unvaccinated child.
In the same report, the state’s Department of Health say that New Mexico experienced more whooping cough cases in 2011 than any time since the 1980’s. They also state that they have confirmed 110 cases of the disease s0 far in 2012, ahead of the rate in 2011. Of those 110, 13 have been in infants, and of those eight required hospitalization.
This case is very sad, because the parents were responsible, and got their child vaccinated. But someone else, who was not immune or a child whose parents refused to vaccinate them, passed this dangerous infection on to the dead child.
Vaccines save lives. Literally.
As discussed previously, the state of Washington is experience a relatively large outbreak of whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis), with 1,132 cases of whooping cough so far in 2012, which the state reports as over 10 times higher than what was reported in 2011. The epidemic has caused the hospitalization of 20 children under the age of one. Washington Governor Christine Gregoire released cash from an emergency fund last week to be spent on efforts to contain the epidemic. Gregoire has made $90,000 available to strengthen the public awareness campaign about the need to vaccinate against the highly infectious disease that is also known as pertussis. The state’s Department of Health projects that it will spend approximately $200,000 on the campaign. The state has also sought and received approval to use federal funds to purchase 27,000 doses of pertussis vaccines that will be available for the uninsured.
A nine week old Idaho girl died Friday of complications from whooping cough according to Reuters. She was being treated for the disease at a hospital in Pocatello, Idaho; however, her situation worsened, and she was flown to the University of Utah medical center for further treatment as her condition worsened.
There appears to be a significant outbreak of whooping cough in the Northwest US since the beginning of the year. Washington state has had 1132 cases so far this year, a pace running far ahead of last year, when the state had 961 cases for the whole year. Montana has had nearly 100 cases in 2012, while Idaho has had 31 cases.
According to Emily Simnit, a spokeswoman with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, “when you have something as tragic as the death of an infant, it underscores the fact that there are really nasty, severe illnesses that vaccines can prevent.”
The whooping cough immunization is a component of the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccine, which is typically given at the age of 2 months. So the infant probably was not immunized against the disease, and probably got it from an unvaccinated individual, or possibly from someone with lapsed immunity. It could have even been a sibling or another adult. However, there is no indication that the parents were opposed to vaccinating the infant, so this is probably just horrible luck, though the prevalence of the disease in those areas increased the chances of any infant contracting whooping cough.
Idaho and Washington are two of about 20 states that allow for philosophical exemptions to vaccinations. Because of the drop in vaccination rates, herd immunity, where enough people are vaccinated that the disease has little possibility of being transmitted from an infected person to an susceptible one, has probably developed some cracks that allow the diseases to start spreading more quickly.
There are few legitimate reasons to refuse to get vaccinated. There should be medical reasons for not being vaccinated. However, refusing to get children vaccinated because of unscientific, unproven, and ridiculous reasons should stop. Children shouldn’t die of diseases that can be eliminated. One preventable death is unacceptable and unconscionable.
This shouldn’t be happening. There are over 200 cases of measles confirmed in an outbreak in Merseyside, UK, the largest such outbreak since 1988. So far, there have been 210 confirmed cases of measles (and another 92 cases still under investigation). Of these cases, 39 have required hospital treatment.
What’s sad is that 50% of the confirmed cases have occurred in children under five years old. There is probably only one reason why these children are being infected by this disease–no vaccination. Continue reading “Another measles outbreak in United Kingdom”
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting about a whooping cough (pertussis) outbreak in South Florida area. There have been other outbreaks reported in Wisconsin, Washington state, Illinois, British Columbia, England, and Australia. This upsurge in whooping cough cases can mostly be blamed on falling vaccination rates and the lack of booster vaccinations in adults. Importantly, whooping cough can be prevented, with almost no risk, with a DaTP vaccine. Continue reading “Whooping cough outbreak in South Florida”
According to a CBS report, the CDC has reported that the number of measles cases in the US in 2011 was the largest since 1996. In 2000, measles had been eliminated from the US, but that’s changed dramatically in the ensuing decade. There were 222 cases in the US in 2011, about quadruple the number in an average year. Continue reading “Measles–2011 measles outbreak largest in 15 years”
On January 1, 2011, Connecticut mandated that any child between 6 and 59 months old must be vaccinated for influenza if they are to be enrolled in a licensed Connecticut day care center. So the vaccination rate for kids in that age group went from around 54% in 2009-10 to 85% during the 2010-11 flu season.
Emergency department visits for flu and flu-like illness dropped from 34% in 2008 to 30% in 2011, or around 72,000 visits. There was also a 30% decrease in emergency department visits for children in the 6-59 month age range. Like many of these diseases there’s a myth that they are not that dangerous. Except a significant portion of these kids who contract the disease will have other, more serious, issues like pneumonia or even death.
The vaccination program benefits both children and adults that come in contact with the children (though it would be better if the parents were vaccinated too). And vaccines save lives. Period. End of debate.