Purdue warns students without measles immunization

Entrance to Purdue Mall

In light of the measles outbreak at the Super Bowl, Purdue University has taken a very aggressive step in requiring that their students provide documentation that they have received their measles vaccinations.  Purdue is a state university in Indiana, and as such, is covered by state immunization regulations for public school students.  Of course, standard immunization covers measles.  If the student doesn’t comply, “a hold will be placed on their academic records and they will not be able to register for classes.”  That’s tough! Continue reading “Purdue warns students without measles immunization”

LeRoy teenage neurological illness mystery–junk science everywhere

When I write postings here, I never search google for information or sources, I always go to trusted locations for my information.  For example, if I read a news article on some interesting subject, I check with the original source, usually at PubMed, for medical articles, and the original abstract (at least) for other science articles.  I click on nearly every outlink in postings that I read, to confirm whether the information presented is accurate.  A google search is practically useless, especially for medical articles, because the amount of cruft and junk science makes it a challenge to sort.

WordPress blogs (which I use) tells the user if a blog posting was searched on google (or Yahoo…does anyone use that anymore?)  Apparently, my postings about the LeRoy (NY) neurological show up on google (but not that far up the list, so people must be digging), and I was kind of surprised.  This led me to do something that I just vowed I wouldn’t do, I googled it. Continue reading “LeRoy teenage neurological illness mystery–junk science everywhere”

Most fish in the sea evolved on land–but not really

New Scientist, a popular science magazine, published an article entitled, “Most fish in the sea evolved on land.”  It doesn’t describe anything new and exciting, except bad science journalism.  If you read the title, you’d think “wow, fish evolved on land.”  Well, they didn’t, and the article makes that clear.  The article states that fish evolved in freshwater and radiate out to saltwater environments, mainly because freshwater environments are more stable, at least, with regards to the water. Continue reading “Most fish in the sea evolved on land–but not really”

The newest cause for the LeRoy neurological issues

I’ve published a few posts over the past month about a group of teenagers and one adult who are experiencing some neurological symptoms in LeRoy, NY, a small town outside of Rochester, NY.  Those symptoms seem to mimic Tourette Syndrome (TS), a neuropsychiatric disorder that is characterized by multiple physical or motor tics plus at least one vocal tic.  It is probably inherited, although a gene for it has not been identified.  Since most of the teenagers who exhibit the symptoms attend LeRoy High School, the New York State Department of Health has carefully examined the school for any environmental issues, and have found none.  Erin Brokovich, of the eponymous movie, has gotten involved and has postulated that a train wreck over 40 years ago spilled toxic chemicals, such as arsenic and trichloroethylene, which may be the cause. Continue reading “The newest cause for the LeRoy neurological issues”

National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators–2012

Recently, the National Science Board (NSB) published its biennial Science and Engineering Indicators report for 2012.  This report comprises quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and engineering by objectively reviewing science and engineering progress in both the US and internationally.  The report does not make policy options and recommendations, but it is used by different governmental and non-governmental entities to formulate their own policies and recommendations. This report is required by law. Continue reading “National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators–2012”

Mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers

Nosocomial infections, or hospital acquired infections, are a significant issue in hospital environments and has become a serious public health issue. These infections include everything from drug resistant bacteria to several viruses, including the flu.  They have serious repercussions in a hospital environment–everything from employee absenteeism to higher mortality rates of patients.  For example, influenza, which has a reputation of being innocuous, can be dangerous to infants, the elderly and immune compromised patients.  Further, a flu outbreak can leave a hospital short-staffed with sick nurses, techs and physicians, making it more difficult to deal with the outbreak itself. Continue reading “Mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers”

The Placebo Myth from Science Based Medicine

While doing some research on the placebo non-effect, I found this article, The Placebo Myth, by Mark Crislip (an infectious disease specialist), in the Science Based Medicine blog.  He makes a simple and effective question which debunks the “placebo effect”:  “why would actively doing nothing have any measurable physiologic effect? It shouldn’t and it doesn’t. Mind over matter? Bah, humbug.”  He continues, “I think that the placebo effect with pain is a mild example of cognitive behavioral therapy; the pain stays the same, it is the emotional response that is altered.”  So, it’s talking therapy (albeit not very focused), not a sugar pill that works. Continue reading “The Placebo Myth from Science Based Medicine”

Faux Siri for the iPhone–vokul and Evi

Though 95% of this blog’s posts are going to be about skepticism in science, medicine, and the natural world, I, as the author, reserve the right to talk about stuff that thrills me in sports and technology.  A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the vokul app for the iPhone 4.  If you have an iPhone 4S, you have access to Siri, a voice control system that connects with Apple’s servers and provides all kinds of assistance.  It can read texts, find stuff for you, and apparently has a great sense of humor.  What makes it different than other voice control systems is that it understands natural speech.  You don’t have to say “open up calendar.  Check 10 AM.”  You can say, “what’s going on with my schedule today?” Continue reading “Faux Siri for the iPhone–vokul and Evi”

CDC makes recommendations on the use of HPV vaccine in males

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine vaccination of males aged 11 or 12 years with HPV4 administered as a 3-dose series (recommendation category: A, evidence type: 2§). The vaccination series can be started beginning at age 9 years. Vaccination with HPV4 is recommended for males aged 13 through 21 years who have not been vaccinated previously or who have not completed the 3-dose series. Males aged 22 through 26 years may be vaccinated. Continue reading “CDC makes recommendations on the use of HPV vaccine in males”