This Papa is scared of the shmeasles measles

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in June 2014. It has been revised and updated to improve readability and correct and update some information

This is 2014. We have sent people to the moon. I can be in contact with people from Australia, Germany, Israel, or someone a few blocks away from me (whom I’ve never actually met in person) without stepping away from my computer. I can see photos of my lovely and brilliant daughters, without having to thumb through an album with fading Kodak photographs.

And you know what else? Our modern medicine can prevent measles: in 2000, it was declared non-endemic in the United States, meaning that there were no wild measles viruses floating around the USA. It was considered one of the great public health victories, along with eliminating smallpox and polio (almost, give it a year or so).

But now measles is coming back. In 2014, the United States is seeing the highest number of cases since 1994. It’s in the few hundreds at this point, but that’s way more than before and the trend is worrying. In the past years, Europe had seen tens of thousands of cases of measles, along with numerous hospitalizations and death. This is unnecessary suffering: we have an extremely effective and safe vaccine against measles. But like brakes, seatbelts, and bulletproof vests, it tends not to work as well if you don’t use it.

Thanks to anti-vaccine misinformation, the rate of vaccination against the measles has dropped slightly. Problematically, the decline in vaccination isn’t evenly distributed across the country, pockets of unvaccinated occur in various locations, where just a child who picks up the disease in a foreign country can quickly spread it through a community. Continue reading “This Papa is scared of the shmeasles measles”

The Hate Debate of the anti vaccine cult

Recently, an anti vaccine cult member, who goes by the nom de plume of Megan, published a blog post called the Hate Debate, which was filled with all of the tropes, myths and outright misinformation of the anti vaccine cult. In other words, nothing new.

Except, she made this whiny, outrageous accusation:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]I am sick of it – this vaccination debate. My convictions not to vaccinate have been firm for six years now and I was comfortable living a low-profile life and letting other more notable activists carry the torch; and then I started seeing misleading t.v. interviews, news stories, and backlash against parents and unvaccinated children.

I saw reputable medical professionals get crucified and reputations destroyed for questioning the mainstream norm. I saw laws passed in other states removing freedoms that rightfully belong to parents and individuals as a whole. I saw fear, blame, finger-pointing, lies, and flat out hate being propagated and encouraged by people, physicians, and popular media avenues towards parents who don’t vaccinate, and their children.[/infobox]

Setting aside the victimization complex that Megan is claiming, and the notable lack of any crucifixions of antivaccinationists on the news, there are a couple of  larger, more important points. First, there are no debates about vaccination. These debates are an invention of anti-science people which is similar to false debates in other fields of science, like climate change, GMOs, evolution, HIV/AIDS, and many other areas.

Continue reading “The Hate Debate of the anti vaccine cult”

The end of the vaccines cause autism myth

Editor’s note – this article has been substantially updated and re-published.. Comments for this article have been closed, and you can comment at the newer article.

If you know none of the details of the antivaccination lunacy, then your education should start with the perpetrator of one of the greatest scientific frauds, MrAndy Wakefield. Mr. Wakefield published a paper, subsequently withdrawn by the highly respected medical journal, Lancet, that blamed the MMR vaccine (vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella) for causing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

From that one fraudulent article, some of the most dangerous outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases can be laid at the feet of Wakefield, as parents started to refuse to vaccinate their children against these diseases. And of course, billions of dollars, money that could have been spent on actually treating and assisting children with ASD, was spent to investigate this claim, with over 100 peer-reviewed papers completely dismissing and debunking any link between any vaccine and any type of autism.

Let me make this abundantly clear– the vaccines  cause autism myth has never been supported by real science even when we looked hard for evidence. Continue reading “The end of the vaccines cause autism myth”

So is the “vaccines cause autism” trope finally dead?

The evidence that vaccines are not linked to autism is compelling and overwhelming. And there has never been much evidence supporting the link (unless you buy into bad journals and withdrawn articles).

vaccines-dont-cause-autism

So, is this story finally dead?

Thanks antivaccine lunatics–measles is back in the USA

warning-measlesIn 2000, measles was declared to be eliminated (defined as the interruption of year-round endemic transmission) in the USA. There were occasional, small numbers of secondary outbreaks since then resulting from individuals who were not vaccinated and who had visited areas that still had endemic measles outbreaks.

Measles incidence fell from around 600,000 cases per year in 1960 to an average of around 60 per year in the 2000’s in the USA as a result of a widespread vaccination with the MMR vaccine. This is an incredible success in public health, since around 5% of those children who catch measles require hospitalization, and 1 in 1000 die.

Unfortunately, this year, measles has come back. Luckily, not as bad as in 1960, but still, after we thought we had stopped endemic outbreaks in the USA to see it return is troublesome.

©CDC, 2012
©CDC, 2012

A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) states that there have been 288 measles cases in the USA from 1 January through 23 May 2014, slightly less than 5 months. This is the highest number of cases since measles was declared eliminated in the USA, and more than the 220 in all of 2013 (what was previously considered the worst year). Fifteen outbreaks accounted for almost 79% of these measles cases. Most of the cases were in Ohio, California and New York City.

What is particularly frightening is that most of the 288 measles cases reported this year were in persons who were unvaccinated (69%), or who had an unknown vaccination status (20%). Only 30 cases (slightly less than 10%) were in persons who were fully vaccinated. Of the 195 who had measles and were unvaccinated, 165 (85%) declined vaccination because of religious, philosophical, or personal objections. This totally debunks the outrageous lies by antivaccine propagandist Sayer Ji and others who claim that only vaccinated individuals spread the disease. 

As the CDC has reported previously, MMR vaccine uptake in the USA is still high enough for herd immunity (>90%). But that’s an average across the whole country, and there are many pockets of unvaccinated children, mainly because vaccine refusal tends to cluster among certain groups. And it takes only one person who has visited and returned from a country with endemic measles (such as the Philippines, which has a significant number of visitors to and from the USA) to begin an outbreak in these unvaccinated clusters.

There’s really no excuse to not vaccinate children with the MMR vaccine. We’ve already shown that the vaccine does not cause autism. Let’s protect children from this disease, and eliminate it (again) from the USA.

 

Visit the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.

 

Key citations:

The false ideology of science deniers–research is easy

tyson-science-trueA few days ago, a fellow pro-science person was concerned about a tweet she received. Her antagonist was claiming that if my friend had all that time to tweet, then she obviously wasn’t working in academics as she claimed.

I have a Twitter feed that flies across the top right corner of my screen. I have over 1200 followers, and I follow the tweets well over that number. I have varied interests, but to be honest, there are too many tweets. I only respond or retweet things I happen to see when I look up to that upper right corner of my computer’s screen. I know I miss some good stuff. But I think I find a few dozen every day that lead me to read news articles or peer-reviewed journals. Occasionally, I run across a Tweet that makes me laugh or think.

Yes it takes time, but from the moment I wake up until I go to bed, I’m reading, writing, texting/messaging other scientists for ideas. We discuss books we’ve read. All of us in science writing work very hard to get where we are, which cause an epiphany bout the science deniers. I have a theory about their behavior and dismissal of science. I cannot be sure it applies to everyone; for example, there are some seriously deranged people who blame everything in science on Reptilians, Illuminati, Jews, and the US Government (run by Jews I suppose). There’s no logic with those types. Continue reading “The false ideology of science deniers–research is easy”

Who are the most annoying antivaccination shills?

Please choose your favorite shill. Or not.

If you have remarks, comments or complaints, just put them in the comments at the bottom. If I missed a category, please tell me that, I’ll try to remember it for future polls.

Antivaccine lies–peanut oil and vaccines

The lying liars who lie, also known as antivaccine websites, have one goal in mind: say anything about anything that makes it appear that vaccines are dangerous, repeat it over and over, and then hope that other websites pick it up. Eventually, some people will think it’s a fact, and when you Google this “fact,” there will be so many websites that repeat the same lie (and some innocently, without really critically analyzing it), even a somewhat impartial observer will think that it’s the TRUTH.

About as close as peanuts will come to vaccines.
About as close as peanuts will come to vaccines.

Now, they can’t make obnoxiously obvious lies, because there are lines that one can’t cross before everyone can see it’s a lie or the product of insanity. If an antivaccine website says that aliens from Klingon manufacture the vaccines so that humans will grow a ridge on their forehead, well that would be ridiculous. Cool, but ridiculous. Yes, I know there would be some small number of people who say, “I knew it!”  Continue reading “Antivaccine lies–peanut oil and vaccines”

Chili’s and the National Autism Association–one more thing

I promised myself that I wouldn’t write anything more about Chili’s and their outstanding decision to back away from providing a donation to the antivaccination front group called the National Autism Association (NAA). Since I made that promise to me, and not to my readers, I get to write about Chili’s again with few consequences. Well, other than spending some time this evening in writing this last post, I promise, about Chili’s. I might choose to write something about the NAA again in the future, because they are kind of reprehensible, as you will soon see.

As I pointed out yesterday, the NAA is much more than just an autism advocacy group that lies about vaccines. It also promotes horrifying treatments for autism such as chelation, which has shown to not be effective. And many of the practitioners of chelation therapy are miscreants and other kinds of low lives. As I’ve mentioned previously, simple math, at the level a third grader would understand, indicates that it make take millions of doses of vaccines to be toxic, and only then if the patients kidneys had failed so nothing would be cleared from the blood. So, NAA is encouraging the use of chelation therapy, which does have risks, to fix a problem that we KNOW doesn’t cause autism, and, in fact, doesn’t even exist in the first place.

They could have just made the same claim that magical water cures autism. Oh I forgot, they are sponsored by Boiron, a homeopathy manufacturer.

© 2014, Skeptical Raptor, LLC. Yeah, I went here for lunch in Los Angeles.
© 2014, Skeptical Raptor, LLC. Yeah, I went here for lunch in Los Angeles.

 

Continue reading “Chili’s and the National Autism Association–one more thing”

Chili’s makes the right choice–the wrap-up

Updated with more good quotes.

Over this past weekend, a social media protest on Twitter, Facebook, reddit and various blogs created an atmosphere where Chili’s, who was planning to contribute 10% of each guest’s check to an organization whose mission is to support the needs of the autism community, was getting stuck in a tight corner. Although the National Autism Association (NAA) appeared to be a fine charity, helping autistic children in numerous ways, their explicit statement that “Vaccinations can trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not many, children, especially those who are genetically predisposed to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions,” contradicts the vast mountain of evidence that explicitly and clearly refutes any connection between vaccines, vaccine ingredients, and the number of vaccines with autism.

©2014, Wikipedia Commons
©2014, Wikipedia Commons

Continue reading “Chili’s makes the right choice–the wrap-up”