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Maryland proposes new vaccine requirements for students


            The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Maryland is proposing revised vaccination regulations that would require incoming kindergartners to receive a chicken pox booster vaccination (varicella vaccine). It is also requiring seventh graders to get a booster against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, (DTaP vaccine).… Read More »Maryland proposes new vaccine requirements for students


More science denialism from Meryl Dorey


It’s clear that Meryl Dorey, founder of the Australian Vaccine Network, is the very symbol of vaccine denialism, using all sorts of pseudoscientific stupidity to support her unsupportable beliefs. Those beliefs have lead to the various whooping cough, measles, and other infectious disease outbreaks in Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK. Admittedly, she’s not the primary cause of this type of denialism (we can blame Mr. Andy Wakefield for his fraudulent research that lead to Dorey’s particular brand of denialism).

It gets worse. Or funny.  Maybe both. Read More »More science denialism from Meryl Dorey


British Columbia: Zombie Preparedness Week


Emergency Info BC, the British Columbia emergency information resource, has announced Zombie Preparedness Week: Are you ready?. This is critical information that needs to be shared with everyone.

The threat of zombie attack is a popular phenomenon around the globe and with it comes the message to “be prepared”. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, avalanches, interface fires, severe storms and hazardous material spills are some of the dangers that could threaten lives and cause extensive damage in British Columbia. And while the chance of zombies a-knockin’ on your door is pretty slim, we do believe that if you’re ready for zombies, you’re ready for any disaster.Read More »British Columbia: Zombie Preparedness Week


Whooping cough: outbreak in Montana


            Add another state in the northwest US, Montana, that is experiencing an outbreak of whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis). Washington and Idaho (where a child has already died), along with nearby British Columbia, have also experienced sizable outbreaks.   Health officials… Read More »Whooping cough: outbreak in Montana


Whooping cough: Washington State lacks funds to fight epidemic


Whooping cough patients per county

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.Read More »Whooping cough: Washington State lacks funds to fight epidemic


Anti-vaccine lunatics need a dictionary


The junk science and outright lies that can be found on the internet is enough to make one wonder if it’s even possible to cut through this noise to present what is actually scientifically and medically sound. Every day, there’s new internet meme that makes some outrageous, and barely rational, claim. If you produce expensive urine, it will prevent cancers. Or experiments on monkeys prove that vaccines cause autism. Or Mayans, who couldn’t even predict that Spanish Conquistadors were going to invade, supposedly predicted the end of the world in 2012. Seriously, why do people listen? Maybe that’s why a lot of bloggers take the time to debunk this stupidity, in the hope that someone researching some pseudoscientific claim, finds a few skeptical blogs that use snark, science, and logic to discredit them. Some blogs use all three!Read More »Anti-vaccine lunatics need a dictionary


Cancer prevention–supplements


Potential causes for cancer are numerous. Infections. Radon gas. Cigarette smoking. Sun exposure. Obesity. With over 200 types of cancer, each with a different pathophysiology, there may be an equal (and probably greater) number of causes. Although many causes can be easily eliminated, such as stopping smoking, testing your house for radon, getting an HPV vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus infections, and wearing sunblock to reduce the risk of melanomas, the sheer complexity and number of types of cancer means that there is probably not going to be any simple panacea to preventing (or even curing) cancer. In fact, some hereditary cancers, such as those individuals who carry genes that are implicated in breast and ovarian cancers, may not be preventable at all.Read More »Cancer prevention–supplements


Whooping cough: new outbreak in Kansas


            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… Read More »Whooping cough: new outbreak in Kansas


Pay your bills in 2012–Mayans did not predict the end


Not that any reasonable person actually thought that the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world in 2012, but a lot of people think it’s going to happen.  This incredibly silly myth arose because the Mayan calendar was based on 13 separate 144,000 day intervals (called baktuns), and the last day of that 13th baktun is December 21, 2012, so, of course, the pseudoscience, myth-loving crowd thought that the Mayans predicted the end of the world.  Of course, this fails on so many levels, including that it’s impossible to predict the future and that it’s a silly assumption that the Mayan calendar can’t repeat itself.Read More »Pay your bills in 2012–Mayans did not predict the end


Infections causes 16% of cancers–what?


Ed Yong, a scientist and contributor to Discover Magazine, wrote an blog post, What does it mean to say that something causes 16% of cancers?, discussing a news report that stated that 16% of cancers around the world were caused by infections.  Here are some excerpts:

A few days ago, news reports claimed that 16 per cent of cancers around the world were caused by infections. This isn’t an especially new or controversial statement, as there’s clear evidence that some viruses, bacteria and parasites can cause cancer (think HPV, which we now have a vaccine against). It’s not inaccurate either. The paper that triggered the reports did indeed conclude that “of the 12.7 million new cancer cases that occurred in 2008, the population attributable fraction (PAF) for infectious agents was 16·1%”.

But for me, the reports aggravated an old itch. I used to work at a cancer charity. We used to get frequent requests we got for such numbers (e.g. how many cancers are caused by tobacco?). However, whenever such reports actually came out, we got a lot confused questions and comments. The problem is that many (most?) people have no idea what it actually means to say that X% of cancers are caused by something, where those numbers come from, or how they should be used.Read More »Infections causes 16% of cancers–what?