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.  Continue reading “More science denialism from Meryl Dorey”

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 in Flathead County, Montana, which borders British Columbia, have announced five additional cases of the disease. Some school events were cancelled or postponed since officials were concerned about large gatherings because of the contagiousness of the disease. County health officials are urging parents to make certain that their children have up-to-date vaccinations, and that adults have current vaccinations. The standard vaccine for pertussis is the DTaP, which provides immunity to diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

Vaccines save lives.

via Montana county experiences heightened number of whooping cough cases | Vaccine News Daily.

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. Continue reading “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! Continue reading “Anti-vaccine lunatics need a dictionary”

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 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.

via Pertussis outbreak reported in Kansas | Vaccine News Daily.

Pseudoscience and the desperate anti-vaccine intrigue

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”

Whooping cough: New Mexico records first infant death since 2005

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.

via New Mexico records first infant pertussis death since 2005 | Vaccine News Daily.

Washington allocates money for whooping cough outbreak

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.

Continue reading “Washington allocates money for whooping cough outbreak”

Idaho infant dies from whooping cough

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.  

via H5N1: US: Idaho infant dies from whooping cough amid regional outbreak

Dumb Asses and Vaccines

Though published last fall, prior to the flu season, Biodork (great name), reprinted key parts of the 2011 edition of A Budget of Dumb Asses by Dr. Mark Crislip, who takes anti-anti-science to a new level of snark.  It’s hidden in Medscape, so unless you have an account, you can’t read it it, but we have it here for you.  It’s all about flu, but you can replace flu with any other vaccination.  For your educational and humorous pleasure, and thanks to Biodork, here we go:

I wonder if you are one of those Dumb Asses who do not get the flu shot each year? Yes. Dumb Ass. Big D, big A. You may be allergic to the vaccine (most are not when tested), you may have had Guillain-Barre, in which case I will cut you some slack. But if you don’t have those conditions and you work in healthcare and you don’t get a vaccine for one of the following reasons, you are a Dumb Ass. Continue reading “Dumb Asses and Vaccines”