Facts, not Fantasy

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scientific American: New Clues for Improving Antibiotics for Tolerant Bacteria

Bacteria evolve.  We know this. Of course, this can cause some problems for those of us who have to deal with them.  No, not like in Doonesbury, but real life:

New Clues for Improving Antibiotics for Tolerant Bacteria

Some of the ways bacteria protect themselves from antibiotics might be used against them to strengthen existing drugs
The superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has provoked fear in doctors and patients alike because it is endowed with genetic characteristics that make it impervious to many antibiotics, and it can be deadly to boot. Less well known, however, is another class of bacteria that also resist antibiotics, but for reasons that have puzzled scientists. These bugs cause stubborn infections in ears and urinary tracts and post-surgical wounds, even though, from their genetic profiles, they should be perfectly good targets for antibiotics.

Researchers are now starting to figure out how these bacteria withstand antibiotic treatment: by exploiting the same traits that have helped them endure environmental stressors. Two new research papers, published Friday in Science, show how bacteria use their ability to withstand prolonged periods without food or exposure to reactive oxygen to also fight off antibiotics. Knowing what these defenses are could lead to new ways of making existing therapies more effective.

Friday, December 09, 2011

What use is half a wing?

An oft repeated creationist canard is "What use is half a wing?" or something equally inane.  The University of Montana and the BBC shed some light on this that even a creationtard could possibly understand (assuming they got their fingers out of their ears long enough to listen).

Flap-running in birds is key to flight evolution

The ungainly sight of a bird furiously flapping its wings as its spindly legs propel it forward could be a peek at evolutionary history. 

"Flap-running", researchers say, may have been a key step in the evolution of flight.

Experiments with pigeons have shown that it helps birds ascend slopes and suggests the earliest flightless birds might have used the same technique.

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Brandon Jackson, from the University of Montana, US, who led the study, explained that he and his colleagues wanted to know why birds would flap-run when they were capable of flight.

His co-researcher, Ken Dial, noticed this behaviour when filming a type of partridge known as a chuckar.
As the rotund birds negotiated obstacles, they would run up the objects flapping their wings. When Dr Dial discussed this behaviour with local ranchers and hunters, some reported that adult chukars would flap to run up cliffs, rather than fly.
Diagram of pigeon flap-running up a slope (Image: Journal of Experimental Biology) 
The birds used far less energy when flap-running than when flying
Dr Jackson and his team decided to find out if the birds might be using the technique to save energy by measuring the amount of power generated by the flight muscles when birds flew and when they were flap-running.

They surgically implanted electrodes into the flight muscles of pigeons - closely related birds that often flap and run even though they are very good fliers.

The electrodes measured muscle activity in the birds as they flapped and ran up ramps of varying inclines, and as they flew parallel to those same ramps.

The team was most surprised by what they saw when they compared the birds' muscle activity on a ramp with a 65 degree incline.

Running up that ramp, explained Dr Jackson, "required about 10% as much power from the flight muscles" as flying.

"The signal was imperceptible at first, and we actually thought we had a problem with the recording equipment. But when we zoomed in, there it was, about a tenth the magnitude that it was during flight," he said.

"The birds seemed to be using hardly any power to flap their wings as they ran up the slopes."

The method, the researchers say, is also an essential learning step for fledging chicks.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Scientific American: Autism in Another Ape

Every time I hear anyone proclaim how unique humans are, I want to correct them.  We are animals just like any other animal.  And we have some very close cousins out there that demonstrate this all the time.  It's just that most of us are in our own little worlds that we don't ever notice.

Autism in Another Ape

Rambunctious one-year-old Teco, a third-generation captive-born bonobo at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, has an ape’s usual fondness for games and grapes. But perhaps because of trauma from a difficult birth (his mother was in labor for 60 hours) or a genetic predisposition, Teco is different from his bonobo peers in ways that resemble autism in young children. He could not cling to his mother or nurse the way healthy young apes do instinctively, mimicking the aversion to physical contact seen in children with autism. Teco also tends to fixate on shiny objects and avoids eye contact, and he has trouble coordinating his four limbs. A genetic analysis of bonobos, already under way, may shed light on Teco’s condition and offer new perspectives on autism’s genetic roots in humans.

Monday, December 05, 2011

AIDS Vaccine?

I'd like to present two papers without too much comment.  These speak to trials and tests on the progress of an HIV vaccine.

MVA-B phase I

MVA-B phase I JVirol

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Opting Out of Vaccinations...

Again, Todd W. has the pulse on this issue.

As he also notes
The only quibble I really have is that the quote from Jennifer Margulis went unaddressed:,
Many of the vaccines are unnecessary and public health officials don't honestly know what the effect of giving so many vaccines to such small children really are...

Most, if not all, of the vaccines are necessary for public health and prevention of disease. And the effects of the vaccine schedule can be seen from the long history of safe use.

Technical Difficulties

If you follow this blog and have been expecting updates, my apologies.  I had a busy month lined up for November as far as my personal life, so I queued up a bunch of posts and then let them go on autopilot.  Sadly, instead of setting them up to publish automatically, they saved as drafts and never made it to published status.  I am about to rectify that situation, so bear with me as a bunch of posts pop up rather suddenly.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Whooping Cough in New York

Many people assume that people dying from preventable diseases only happens in third world countries, and places where public health is in the dark ages.  Well, I suppose if the anti-vax pro-disease nutters have their way, the US may become that type of place.

NY whooping cough cases highest since 1999


New York - Early this year, 13 diagnosed cases of whooping cough were in Smithtown, New York. As the year progressed, that number would increase drastically to 216 cases throughout the entire Suffolk County.
This is the highest number of whooping cough cases reported in the area since 1999. Also called pertussis, whooping cough is highly contagious and can cause serious illness in infants who are too young to be vaccinated with the five required shots. Families with newborns should have teenagers and adults vaccinated.
For Infants and Children: In the US, the recommended pertussis vaccine for children is called DTaP. This is a safe and effective combination vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. For maximum protection against pertussis, children need five DTaP shots. The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The fourth shot is given between 15 and 18 months of age, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4–6 years of age. If a 7-10 year old is not up-to-date with DTaP vaccines, a dose of Tdap should be given before the 11-12 year old check up.(CDC)
Whooping cough is caused by bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, and is one of the most common of all vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States. If not properly vaccinated with the DTaP vaccinations, over half of infants under one year of age will end up in the hospital with lung infection; one out of 100 will develop convulsions from the disease; and another one out of 100 will die.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/315319#ixzz1fUlbG0nh


A Photon in the Darkness: “Latex causes autism”

Well, I hope that this is actually a sign that the anti-vax pro-disease loonies are finally running out of steam, and are grasping at straws like a drowning man grabs at anything in their death throes...  A Photon in the Darkness has this to say about this crazy idea:
Let the Nonsense begin!:

Before May of this year, I was in blissfiul ignorance of the “hypothesis” that latex - specifically, latex in vaccines (of course) - was the cause (or a cause) of regressive autism. But then Orac (of the Respectful Insolence ‘blog) posted a short notice (here) of a press release for the book Vaccine Delivery and Autism (The Latex Connection), by Dochiak and Dunn. It was a small post, with only a minimum of “respectful insolence” added, since the premise of the book seemed laughable enough.  The press release described the authors thusly:
“Michael J. Dochniak and Denise H. Dunn are leading experts in the etiology of allergy-induced regressive autism and have previously authored a book for Nova Science, entitled ‘Allergies and Autism.’ Dochniak is a scientific researcher in the field of Hevea brasiliensis natural-latex induced autism. Dunn is an early childhood educator who works closely with autistic children and adults, and has been teaching for more than 15 years.”
Fortunately, it wasn’t too hard to check on Mr. Dochniak’s credentials as a “scientific researcher in the field of Hevea brasiliensis natural-latex-induced autism”. In reality, he has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and psychology (both awarded in 1985) and has published - apart from the two books - one article in Medical Hypotheses.  That article - needless to say - had no data. In fact, Mr. Dochniak’s only “research” into autism has been in the library and on the Internet, although he has written a few articles on latex for adhesive and sealant trade newsletters and is on a number of patents and patent applications, including one for a “Method to affect the development of autism spectrum disorders” (#20070034214).

 A day after the post, the lead author, Mr. Michael Dochniak, appeared in the comment thread and - as they say - hilarity ensued.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Harpocrates Speaks: Varicella Vaccination Among Older Kids Protects Infants

Another timely article from Todd W.

Varicella Vaccination Among Older Kids Protects Infants

Turning on the news this morning, I was greeted with a story that caught my ear. Published online, ahead of print, a new study in the journal Pediatrics, "Varicella in Infants After Implementation of the US Varicella Vaccination Program", looked at the incidence of varicella (chickenpox) among infants under 12 months of age.

The varicella vaccine was approved in 1995 and is recommended for all children aged 12 months to 12 years. It is a "live" virus vaccine, meaning that the vaccine uses intact, though weakened, virus particles that grant immunity without causing full-blown disease. Vaccines of this sort are generally more effective than "killed" virus vaccines, which only use part of the virus. Because of the approved age range for the vaccine, it does not provide direct protection to infants under 12 months of age, but it can provide protection through herd immunity.

So what did the researchers find?

In the observational study, the authors looked at chickenpox incidence among infants under 12 months of age from 1995 to 2008. The population was broken up into 0-5 months and 6-11 months. They found that incidence among the total infant population fell 89.7% over the period examined. They also noted that complications and severity of disease was lower in the younger age group vs. the older group. The authors speculate that this may have been due to maternal antibodies (which generally provide some protection to infants for about 6 months).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dr Bob is only looking out for you (or himself)

The Sears' website has been modified again, and here is Dr. Bob himself, explaining the origin of his alternative vaccination schedule. It is really all about parental concerns (not about his own flirtations with the anti-vaccine crowd, or the fact that his "alternative" schedule almost doubles the number of office visits for vaccine purposes at $75 to $200 dollar a pop). Good to know, right?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Death due to lack of immunity

I don't think I can, or need to say anything else about this video:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Harpocrates Speaks: The Sequelae of Pox

A follow up to a post by Todd W.  And I am recovering beautifully from my surgery thank you.

The Sequelae of Pox

A couple weekends ago, something of a firestorm erupted among skeptical bloggers. Namely, the news about parents sending pox-laden lollipops through the mail. It was covered by Mike the Mad Biologist, Emily Willingham, Reuben, Tara Smith, Orac and Phil Plait. Largely, the various bloggers, myself included, condemned the parents in the original story because they were knowingly sending infectious material in the mail.

Some folks in the comments of the various articles made the observation that every day, people lick envelopes, handle packages in perhaps less than sterile conditions and so, perhaps unwittingly, leave unintended presents for the recipients, not to mention the delivery personnel. How is that any different from what these parents have done?

First off, I will readily admit that what the parents were doing probably would not lead to anyone contracting chicken pox. Since the virus does not remain viable for very long at all in the environment, it would most likely be rendered harmless given the amount of time it takes the package to be mailed. Even if the pox package managed to reach its target quickly, fomites like lollipops and spit-soaked rags also are unlikely to cause an infection, as the virus is primarily spread via the respiratory system. The oral route is a bit rough on the bug, and it would likely be destroyed before it could actually cause an infection.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Vaccine Times: Why Kids Need the Chickenpox Vaccine

The Vaccine Times pointed me at this article, so I am doing the same as they are.

Dr. Mallika's 5 Fast Facts: Why Kids Need the Chickenpox Vaccine

A new trend finds some parents giving their children candy coated with chickenpox germs in an attempt to build their immunity without a chickenpox vaccine. Here, Everyday Health's medical director explains why that's not a good idea — and why it's so important to vaccinate your kids.

FRIDAY, Nov. 11, 2011 — You may have heard about a disturbing new trend making headlines these days — one that involves parents who buy and sell contaminated items meant to intentionally sicken their kids. Parents who don’t want to give their children the varicella vaccine for chickenpox are purchasing mail-order lollipops that have been sucked by children with chickenpox, hoping to build their kids’ immunity against the disease “naturally.” Besides being illegal, this is incredibly dangerous. First, there’s no telling what other germs or bacteria are being spread through these “pox pops.” And second, exposing your kids to the varicella virus — assuming it can even survive on the candy, which isn’t clear at this point — puts them at risk for developing chickenpox, which can be serious or, in some cases, even deadly.

The pox pops trend is a variation on the decades-old tradition of “pox parties,” where healthy kids are invited to play with infected kids to expose them to the virus. Invitations to such events have been posted on Craigslist, Facebook, and even designated pox party Web sites. The idea is certainly popular — but that doesn’t mean it’s good.

The best and safest way to protect your kids and build their immunity is to give them the chickenpox vaccine, which the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for all young people ages 12 months to 12 years. Some 6 percent of parents choose not to vaccinate their children against chickenpox out of either fear or principle, according to a recent study in Pediatrics, but research shows that’s a risky decision.

Here, five reasons to skip the pox pops and parties and get your kids vaccinated:

1. Getting the chickenpox vaccine is much safer than getting the disease. Many parents wonder whether it’s better for their child to get infected with chickenpox or to get the vaccine, and there really should be no question. The vaccine, which is given in two doses at least three months apart, usually around age 1, is made up of a weakened version of the virus that cannot cause full-blown disease. Adverse reactions are the exception, not the rule — and when they do occur, they’re generally very mild. About 20 percent will have temporary soreness or redness at the injection site, and 10 percent will have a slight fever. More serious problems like seizures are exceedingly rare: Less than .1 percent of kids who get the vaccine experience such a response, compared with 10 percent of kids who don’t get the vaccine and require medical attention for serious complications associated with chickenpox.

2. Chickenpox is no picnic — for you or your child. Even mild cases are uncomfortable and inconvenient. Most children with chickenpox first develop cold-like symptoms, followed by a fever and then as many as 500 itchy, fluid-filled blisters that begin on the head or chest and quickly spread to the rest of the body. Some unlucky kids may also experience vomiting or diarrhea. This can last for up to 10 days, during which time your child will be unable to attend school and will need to be cared for and watched for signs of infection. About 1 in 10 children will develop a complication such as pneumonia, secondary skin lesions, dehydration, or, in rare cases, encephalitis (swelling of the brain). A few may even die.

3. Not vaccinating your children puts other children at risk, too.


Friday, November 11, 2011

World Health Day

Just a quick post for world health day:

Flu Hits 90 Million Children Under 5 Each Year

Global tally also includes 20 million kids with flu who develop potentially deadly pneumonia

FRIDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Although it can be prevented with a vaccine, roughly 90 million children worlwide who are younger than 5 get the flu each year, resulting in about 1 million hospital admissions, a new study indicates.

Published in the Nov. 11 online edition of The Lancet, the research also revealed that flu-related pneumonia claimed the lives of up to 111,500 children in 2008. According to the report, 99 percent of these deaths occurred in developing countries.
Rather depressing, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Just the Vax: Angelina is Dying

An incredibly sad story that could easily have been prevented!

And another SSPE case: Angelina is dying

I had seen girl previously on a board, but the parents had not gone public until now, after Natalie's death.

Angelina caught measles in 2006 from an adult, when she was 7 months old. She recovered well - this is her before SSPE broke out:

This is her now:

Gina, Angelina's mum says (my translation):

"In February of this year, we noticed pronounced problems with our daughter. She kept falling off her bike, and had speech blockades. When this was getting worse, we went to the clinic. The diagnosis SSPE was a shock for us. Our child became dependent on care within 8 weeks. She cannot walk nor speak and needs to be tube fed. She would have entered school this year. This blow of fate is very hard for us all."

According to Sean Monks, spokesperson of the German Association of Pediatricians, this is the third case of SSPE from measles infection in infants in 2006 - in 2006 a total of 313 infants with measles were reported to the RKI (German CDC equivalent) in Berlin. One of these children died in 2007, another has been suffering from SSPE since 2009, and now Angelina is the third victim from that year.

Monday, November 07, 2011

WTF?! Pox by Mail

I have restrained from overtly using profanity on this site (unlike my personal site), but upon hearing about this, I was flabbergasted!  And I am not the only one.  Again, I am going to turn to Todd W because he said it most in alignment with how I would have said it if I had not been having surgery for removing my palm from  my face...

Pox by Post

Something came to light today that made me despair for the human race. I first read it at Mike the Mad Biologist's blog. It was also covered by Emily over at The Biology Files, where Emily took a look at just who the people were that were involved. Reuben wrote about it at The Poxes Blog and Tara discussed it at Aetiology.

What could have gotten the medical and skeptical blogosphere in such an uproar? This story.

You may have heard of pox parties. These little bits of idiocy involve parents bringing their children who have not had the chickenpox over to the house of another family whose child is currently sick with chickenpox. The intent is to purposefully infect their little darlings with a disease that can become quite serious, with hospitalization rates that could be as high as 2-3 per 1,000 cases among healthy children. The reason they do this is because they have an irrational distrust of vaccines and the mistaken belief that natural infection is actually better, because, y'know, actually getting the disease and risking all the very real complications is better than a shot that makes you immune without getting ill or suffering the much more common secondary nastiness from the wild virus.

Well, the recklessness of people like this has gone up a notch. You see, thanks to vaccines, the rate of infection with the varicella virus has declined dramatically, so that it is much more difficult today to find a child with the chickenpox. This makes pox parties a bit harder to find. These paragons of wisdom (that's sarcasm, in case you missed it) have decided to mail the virus to each other. That's right. They're sending lollipops, spit, toys and other contaminated crap to each other. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, they're breaking the law. Varicella is classified in biosafety risk group 2, meaning the those working with it must be trained in how to handle it and follow certain protocols to prevent inadvertently letting it out into the environment. In order to ship material like this, the sender must be trained in proper packaging and handling of the material, and trained carriers with a permit can transport the package. Clearly, though, the law does not matter to these twits, since in response to someone pointing out that it was a Federal offense, one woman answered:
"Tuck it inside a zip lock baggy and then put the baggy in the envelope :) Don't put anything identifying it as pox."
But it isn't just the law about which they are clueless. They have absolutely no thought to the risk involved. These items may be carrying more than just the varicella virus. Hepatitis A and B viruses, meningococcal bacteria and other baddies may also be lurking on that tempting lolli they just received. They are putting their children at significant risk of very serious injury or, yes, even death, all because they think they know better than people who have spent their lives studying biology, immunology and infectious diseases.

But it isn't just their kids that they are putting at risk. They are also jeopardizing the mail carrier who picks up the package, the postal workers sorting things to the right trucks, the drivers that transport the packages, the mail carriers at the receiving end--in short, everyone who handles it along the way. Should any of their ziplock baggies fail, so much for containing the contagion. And what about the external packaging? I'm guessing these people are not practicing the best of sterile handling techniques. They have no clue whether the people who handle their mail may be immune compromised. If they have HIV, are on immunosuppressants due to receiving a transplant or have suppressed immune systems due to age or cancer treatment, they are at very high risk of serious complications from being infected. Even worse, these nitwits aren't content to leave it at just chickenpox; there are some who are even looking to get measles, mumps or rubella samples by mail.

The sheer arrogant ignorance of these people enrages me, to the point that I'm going to do something that I try to avoid, at least on the blog. I try to keep my language clean, but these assholes have no clue what the hell they're doing and the kind of shitstorm they could potentially unleash. For anyone that thinks that this is a good idea, I have just one question for you:

[This bit redacted, now that I've had a little bit of time to cool down. Just imagine a cursing, slug-related insult here, with apologies to slugs.]

I seriously hope that the police and FBI are investigating this issue and will bring the full force of law to bear on these sad wastes of human intellect. And who do we have to thank for thinking like this? People like Jenny McCarthy, Barbara Loe Fisher and the NVIC, Generation Rescue and Age of Autism and all the other anti-vaccine activists out there who advocate for natural infection and preach fear of vaccines. Any harm that comes of this idiocy can be laid at your feet.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Harpocrates Speaks: A Little Bit of Poison in a Sweet, Inviting Wrapper

I will avoid Delta Airlines if I can from now on.  They may be entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts, and they get a lot of facts wrong as Todd W. outlines in this post:

A Little Bit of Poison in a Sweet, Inviting Wrapper

If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don't, why aren't you?), you have likely already heard about a PSA put out by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) and Mercola.com, two slick anti-vaccine organizations. The PSA is being run on Delta Airlines flight. You can read more about it at Skepchick and Respectful Insolence. The Skepchick article includes steps you can take to combat the propaganda, including a link to a petition to get Delta to stop showing it on their flights.

The video is available on YouTube (Update: It looks like NVIC removed the video at that link, but it is still up here and here [Update: looks like it has been removed from Facebook, now, too]), but cannot be embedded. Comments have also been turned off, perhaps to avoid inconvenient critiques from science-minded individuals. On the surface, it appears to be pretty good advice, so why all the fuss?

Because the PSA includes some iffy information and, more importantly, directs people to the NVIC web site, which is rife with misinformation and distortions of fact.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Vaccine Times: Herd Immunity

This is a BRILLIANT article at The Vaccine Times.  It does a great job of explaining what herd immunity is, and why it is important.  I can't just copy part of it here and call it good, this is just too important.  I urge you to go over to The Vaccine Times and support them in any way you can.

The term “herd immunity” elicits strong responses from some in the anti-vaccine camp. Perhaps some do not like the use of the word “herd” because of its association with sheep, or other such animals that do the bidding of their herders. Or perhaps, and this is my belief, it is because the very idea of herd immunity rests upon the premise that vaccines are effective at stopping disease progression, and vaccine efficacy is one of the major things anti-vaxers deny.

Many times they demand proof that herd immunity exists. In and of itself, that request is not unreasonable. After all, scientific proof is the standard by which we measure claims; so what sort of support is there for the idea of herd immunity?
What is herd immunity?
First and foremost let us quickly define what herd immunity is. Basically the idea of herd immunity says that in large groups of individuals, in regards to contagious diseases (those that spread from individual to individual), if a large enough number of individuals is immune to the disease, the chances that a chain of disease transmission will be interrupted are very high, resulting in self-contained, small outbreaks that will die out quickly. Thus, even individuals that are not immune will be protected by the wall that is set up by the vaccinated ones. The herd’s immunity shields those that have no individual immunity.

The herd immunity threshold (the number of immune individuals in a herd at which level the disease cannot persist) varies depending on how contagious the disease in question is, how efficacious the vaccine is, the exposure rates etc. For example, the herd immunity threshold for pertussis is 92-94%, whereas for diphtheria it is 85%.

Here is a nice infographic from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases showing the concept of herd immunity at work:

Credit: NIAID
The Idea of Herd Immunity Makes Sense
Let us think of two extreme scenarios.

Scenario 1 – No One is Immune
If 100% of the population has no immunity, the disease will spread rapidly. Everyone who is exposed will get sick, and besides those individuals who are completely isolated from society, everyone will get sick.

Scenario 2 – Everyone is Immune
If 100% of the population is immune, the disease will not spread and it will die off quickly. Every person who is exposed to it will be safe and no one will get sick.

In reality, the level of immunity in a given population, a.k.a herd, will be somewhere in between 0% and 100%, and the level of disease spread will be somewhere in between “everyone will get sick” and “no one will get sick”. In other words some will get sick. The closer you are to either extreme scenario the closer the “some” will be to that extreme’s outcome. Therefore the less people are vaccinated, the more the disease will spread. Vice-versa, the more people are vaccinated the less the disease will spread.

So from a logical point of view, if you accept that vaccines are efficacious in protecting against disease, you must reach the conclusion that herd immunity must exist, to some extend.

But what kind of proof do we have that in reality such protective effects do exist whenever we vaccinate large numbers of individuals?
The Math of Herd Immunity
Now, some folks can doubt the idea of herd immunity, but I think they will not doubt math. We can infact use math to come up with a formula for herd immunity.  Here are the details:

R0 (The Basic Reproduction Number of the disease) - The average number of other individuals each infected individual will infect in a population that has no immunity to the disease. (for example, each infected individual on average will infect 13 others)

S - The proportion of the population who are susceptible to the disease, i.e. neither immune nor infected (for example, 15 % of the population)

In order for a disease not to die off, at the very least each infected individual should infect another individual. Now, R0 tells us the number of people that our infected person would infect, if everyone he came in contact with had no immunity. However in real life some of his contacts will be immune, and only S of those contacts will have no immunity. So our infected individual will come in contact with S vulnerable people, of which only R0 will get infected. Since we said that we need at least 1 new infection to keep the disease spread alive that means that:
R0 x S = 1
Anything above 1 and the disease will grow and become an epidemic; anything below 1 it will eventually die off.

Remember, what we’re trying to calculate is the herd immunity threshold. Let us denote that by HI. Keep in mind that HI denotes the percentage of the population that is immune to the disease (for example 78% or 0.78). Also keep in mind that S denoted the percentage of the population that is not immune to the disease (for example 22% or 0.22). Therefore, if we add HI and S up we get the full population, which in percentage terms is 1.
HI + S = 1
Or, alternatively:
S = 1 – HI
Substituting (1-HI) for S in our first equation you get:
R0 x ( 1 – HI ) = 1
Solving for HI in this equation give us:
HI = 1 – 1/R0
So let’s assume that for disease X, R0 = 10. In other words if everyone was not immunized, an infected person could be expected to infect another 10 people. This formula would tell us that the Herd Immunity threshold would have to be:
HI = 1 – 1/10 = 0.9   or alternatively 90%
If we assume that vaccine efficacy is 95%, this would mean that we would have to vaccinate at least 95% of the population to reach the required herd immunity threshold (because 0.95 * 0.95 = 0.90).

And there you have it, an admittedly over-simplified, bare bones, dirty calculation of the herd immunity threshold, and how it depends on the reproduction number of the given disease. In real life, scientists must take many more variables into account, things such as Average Age at which the disease is contracted, Average Life Expectancy etc, but this gives you a good idea of the general way in which those herd immunity levels are calculated. The numbers are calculated based on existing statistical information; they are not pulled out of thin air.

So far we’ve shown that the concept of Herd Immunity makes sense and can be derived mathematically. But we still need to show that it works in the real world. Do we have examples, studies showing the herd immunity at work?
The Scientific Evidence
Infant Rotavirus Vaccination May Provide Indirect Protection to Older Children and Adults in the United States, The Journal of Infectious DiseasesPublished by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 2011. DOI: 10.1093/infdis/jir492

This is a study which looked at rotavirus discharge and cause-unspecified gastroenteritis hospital data from a sample of 1,000 hospitals in 42 states in the U.S. Pre-vaccine era (2000-2006) discharge numbers were compared with the first full vaccination year (2008) data. Here are some of the key findings, but keep in mind that, as of that time, the only age group with any significant vaccine coverage was the < 1 years old. Coverage for older children was negligible, a.k.a the other age groups were unvaccinated, thus providing an excellent test sample for herd immunity.
  • Rotavirus discharges saw significant reductions. Specifically by age group:
    • 0-4 – 78% reduction
    • 5-14 – 71% reduction
    • 15-24 – 65% reduction
  • Cause-unspecified gastroenteritis discharges also saw a statistically significant reduction. Specifically by age group:
    • 0-4 – 39% reduction
    • 5-14 – 29% redictopm
    • 14-24 – 8% reduction
How do we interpret these results? This study suggests that vaccinating children aged 1 year or less against rotavirus, provides indirect protection to other age groups not only towards rotavirus itself but also towards all-cause gastroenteritis. It appears that vaccinating young children reduced disease spread in the other, non-vaccinated groups, therefore this study provides direct support to the idea of herd immunity.

Of course, since they had only one full year of vaccination data to work with (2008) it is possible that it could have been a fluke year, an unusually low rotavirus activity year to begin with, so we must be careful not to say that this study proved the protective effects of herd immunity.  As we know, one study never proves anything, and these results will need to be replicated (with respect to the rotavirus vaccine). Readers are welcome to leave links in the comments to other studies that have looked at herd immunity.
So how do we know that herd immunity exists?

First and foremost, if one accepts that vaccines are effective in stopping disease, it is an inevitable logical conclusion.  If many, many people are immune the disease will not spread too far. Those that are not vaccinated, and are surrounded by a wall of immune people, will most likely not be exposed to the virus as the spread will stop before reaching them.

Secondly, we can show mathematically how to calculate the herd immunity threshold, by taking into account well established concepts such as the basic reproduction number of the disease.

Lastly, a study was presented that showed increased protection on unvaccinated populations after introduction of the rotavirus vaccine.

To sum it up the idea of herd immunity is biologically plausible, makes sense logically, can be mathematically modeled based on uncontroversial factors and simple algebra, and is supported by scientific observations and studies.

In other words, to deny herd immunity is to deny biology, logic, common sense, math and science, all in one swoop.

Harpocrates Speaks: Just Answer the Question

Todd W. (yes, that Todd W.) runs a site called Harpocrates Speaks, and he has a brilliant entry that starts of in a manner that I myslef find a great deal of confusion on.  Hexactly how deluded are these people, and do they even realize that they are that deluded!

Just Answer the Question

There are times that I am truly amazed at just how seemingly clueless a person can be. Often, in dealing with alternative medicine or other pseudoscientific belief systems, individuals go to great lengths to avoid answering questions that are asked. The honest believers give it a good go, doing their best to support their beliefs with what they think are legitimate sources. Sometimes, reason breaks through and plants a little seed of critical thinking, and the believer realizes that they've fallen for a lie. On the other hand, the dishonest (and by that I mean the ones who outright lie or misrepresent things) go to great lengths to dodge direct questions. They build straw men, answering questions that were never asked. They deny and obfuscate facts. They work so incredibly hard to convince everyone that the naked emperor over there is actually clothed. Generally, they have some financial stake in it, and when push comes to shove, they quietly slink away, only to trot out their erroneous claims another day.

I found particularly amusing Todd W.'s summation of quakery arguments as:
  • X causes Y
  • Some people with autism have Y
  • Therefore Y causes autism
  • Buy my book

And I went with just generic X and Y arguments, because they do seem to come out of the woodwork with all sorts of crackpot ideas.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Medical News Today: Flu Vaccine Protects Pregnant Woman's Baby And Does Not Cause Miscarriage

I would suppose that this should go in the "Well, of course" column to rational people grounded in reality, however there has been some legitimately confusing studies that should be addressed.  I for one am glad they they were studied in a rigorous and methodical manner instead of whatever quackery and woo woo the anti-vax pro-disease nutters seem intent on.
Apart from protecting a newborn infant from flu for four months, the flu vaccine does not raise the risk of miscarriage, Kathleen Neuzil, MD, member of the Infectious Disease Society of America's Pandemic Influenza Task Force explained at their 49th Annual Meeting. Various presentations at the meeting are showing that pregnant mothers are getting the message not only about the flu shot's importance, but also its safety.

A newborn whose mother was not vaccinated is particularly vulnerable to flu because he/she is more likely not to be born with protective immunity and cannot be vaccinated for at least six months. A newborn who becomes infected with influenza is at a higher risk of complications, and even death, compared to older humans.

Dr. Neuzil, MD, who is also clinical professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, said:

"Pregnant women are understandably concerned about protecting their unborn babies, which makes it all the more important for them to understand that getting a flu shot during pregnancy is an important way to protect the baby, as well as themselves. These new data on the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines is reassuring, and the increasing number of pregnant women receiving the vaccine affirms that women are hearing the message about the vaccine's benefits."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just the Vax: Follow up on my post about Natalie and SSPE

One thing you gotta hand the anti-vax pro-disease nutters is their predictability...
There were two reactions to my post about Natalie's entirely preventable death from SSPE that I had put up yesterday.

One that invariably came from pro-vaccine minded parents, which was "oh, how horrible, the poor child/parents" and sometimes included "can we go after those vaccine-refusing parents"

and one that invariably came from anti-vaccine minded parents, which was "oh, how horrible, how can you call our children potential murder weapons" and sometimes included "you must be paid to post this" pharmashill accusations.

So here are some clarifications:

I don't know much about the parents who took their unvaccinated 11 year old to that pediatrician's practice. I can say with some conviction that neither Andrew Wakefield nor Jenny McCarthy had anything to do with their decision, since this happened in Germany in 1999 and their son was 11 then, so their anti-vaccine decision must have happened 10 years earlier, when neither Wakefield nor McCarthy were a topic (and they never really became one in Germany anyway). We don't know what made them not vaccinate. I am pretty sure they did not intend this to happen.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just the Vax: So predictable - so sad, Natalie dies of SSPE

This is part 1 of a post (which actually seems to be part 1.5 even).  Again, this is the ever predictable and incredibly sad story of someone dying as a result of the anti-vax pro-disease nutters...  Yes, I lay this blame at their feet.  Read on, and then await the next post...
We had previously reported the case of Natalie, one of the children who contracted measles from an unvaccinated preteen in their pediatrician's practice in 2000. Natalie was 11 months old at the time. She came down with SSPE in 2007 (that is actually the average time lag between measles infection in infancy and the development of this fatal measles complication), she deteriorated, fell into a "wake coma" and now passed away due to organ failure.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Delaying Vaccines cause death

A usual anti-vax claim is that governments are too quick to addvaccines to the schedule, usually hinting at some nefarious connections to "big pharma" or some equally wacky conspiracy position.  Well, it seems that vaccines are the cheapest and most cost effective way to prevent disease and suffering, yet the anti-vax pro-disease nutters would rather have this scene repeat itself I guess:

Govt delay over vaccine led to deaths

Government delays in introducing a vaccine against meningococcal B during an epidemic in the 1990s led to "unnecessary and potentially avoidable deaths", new research says.

Research led by the University of Auckland says although the Health Ministry was fully briefed from 1996, it took another eight years for the MeNZB immunisation campaign to begin - at a point when the epidemic was already declining.

The effectiveness of the campaign was also not monitored properly, meaning it was impossible to know how much it contributed to the epidemic's end, the researchers said.

The research has been released weeks after a catch-up campaign was launched in Northland to vaccinate people against meningococcal C, which has killed three people in the region.

Two Wellington teenagers have also died of meningococcal C but a vaccination campaign in the region has been ruled out so far by health officials. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

Malaria has a vaccine which is reported to drop malaria infection rates by around 50%, which is cause for immense celebration.

The malaria vaccine is the first vaccine produced against a parasite rather than a pathogen and if the efficiency rate is to hold this would result in a massive drop in cases and in mortality. Roughly 800,000 people a year die from Malaria per year and a 50% infection drop would halve that.

This is without the countless man hours and pain caused by this disease, remembering that there are roughly 225 million cases of malaria per year and that malaria is a serious disease. The sheer amount of money saved in medication and treatment will be astounding particularly since the people this will benefit the most will be the poorest nations of the world who normally don't have access to the best medication.

It will be a few more years before the vaccine is released but clinical trials are promising. This is 30 years of hard work that have come to fruition even if the immunity doesn't last long. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Greg Laden's Blog: What are the adverse effects of vaccines?

12,000 peer reviewed studies.  I think that should say it all right there, but that still probably won't silence the liars from the anti-vax pro-disease movement...  Greg goes into a lot of details on his blog post, but I wanted to pull a couple of pertinent details from his post.  Again, I urge you to read his entire post on the subject, or even go to the report itself when it comes out.  Amazingly (well, not really), all the adverse effects are not at all what the anti-vax pro-disease nutters would have you think.  Here is a list of them (enmphasis mine):
Convincingly supported links are:

Varicella Vaccine:
Disseminated Oka VZV without other organ involvement (got chicken pox)
Disseminated OK VZV with subsequent infection resulting in Pneumonia, Menningitis, or Hepatitis (got chickenbox, bad)
Vaccine strain viral reactivation without other organ involvement
Vaccine Strain viral reactivation with subsequent infection resulting in menningitis or encephalitis
Anaphylaxis (a multi-system immune reaction, very variable but considered dangerous)

MMR Vaccine:
Measles Inclusion Body encaphalitis
Ferbile seizures

Influenza Vaccine:

Hepatitis A Vaccine
Nothing Noted

Hepatitis B Vaccine:

HPV Vaccine:
Nothing noted

DT-IT and aP containing vaccines:
Meningococcal Vaccine:

Injection-related events:
Deltoid Bursitis (arm hurts)
Syncope (fainting)

Keep in mind that most of these effects are rare and many are minor. The main effect linked to these vaccines is immunity to a potentially deadly disease.

Suffice it to say, there is no connection with autism.  Again, will that stop the lies?  Of course not, lies are not supported by any facts, whereas science is.

Keep in mind, the adverse effects from vaccines runs at about 1 or 2 per MILLION.  Whereas the adverse effects for a disease is in the neighborhood of 1 in 500 to 1 in 10,000 (depending on the disease).

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Vaccine Times: American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Pertussis Booster Vaccine Guidelines

The post I put up the other day about Pertussis, while it may seem related, isn't to this story.  The AAP and CDC do not just rush out and willy nnilly change their schedules and recommendations.  It is a methodical and well thought out process with great rigor and good reasons behind it.  The CDC even tries to reassure folks about this, as does the AAP, but it's an uphill battle against the lies and distortions of the anti-vax pro-disease nutters.  Anyway, the AAP wants to prevent Pertussis (my emphasis):
Pertussis, a.k.a. whooping cough is a nasty disease. It is particularly merciless with our youngest. Last year in California 10 babies died, of which 9 were under 2 months of age and were thus too young to be vaccinated with the first of the 5 doses of the DTaP vaccine. Thus, it is imperative that we do all we can to protect the youngest in our midst from this deadly disease.

In line with this need for extra protection for our children, the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its guidelines about the use of the pertussis booster (Tdap) vaccine. In light of the recent news that immunity from the vaccine might wane sooner than previously thought, these updated recommendations become that much more important.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Vaccine Times: Whooping Cough Vaccine Protection Might Wane Sooner Than Previously Thought

Science is about examining, and re-examining information and data.  That is why it is dynamic (and not static and dogmatic despite the claims of denialists of all sorts).  As of late, Pertussis (or Whooping Cough as it is also know) has had a serious resurgence amongst numerous populations.  In part it is due to the anti-vax pro-disease nutters spreading their lies, but there may be some other factors that play into it.  So a paper has been presented that I found out about at The Vaccine Times:
According to new research by Dr. David Witt, presented at the American Society for Microbiology conference in Chicago on Monday, the protection conferred by the whooping cough vaccine, as currently administered might wane quicker than previously thought. His study suggests that the vaccine’s protection might considerably wane as soon as 3 years after receipt of the last dose.

The study looked at 15,000 children in Marin County, California, including 132 who got whooping cough last year. It found that children who had gone three years or more since the last of their five original shots were up to 20 times more likely to become infected than children who had been more recently vaccinated. The biggest number of cases was in children 8 to 12 years old. The CDC’s own studies also show a drop off in protection, however not as steep as Dr. Witt’s drop.

So what does all this mean? Given that this study is relatively small, even its authors agree that it needs further confirmation. If the results hold however, it might mean that the time between booster shots may need to be reduced.  Alternatively, a more effective vaccine might be developed, although I cannot say how realistic that scenario might be. Or it may not lead to any changes. Although protection wanes, generally speaking vaccinated children have less severe cases of illness than unvaccinated kids, so the waning protection might not justify a change in the booster shot timing or frequency. It is simply too early to say at this point.

I must note, the study took place in a region of the world where the anti-vax pro-disease nutters have a great deal of sway.  I wonder if their actions also contributed to this particular study results?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Stat Girl: Educated otherwise smart people are immune to logic!

I found this blog to be particularly entertaining and worthwhile, so I wanted to popularize one of her posts.  Her style is refreshing, forthright, honest, and she pulls no punches.  As an example, she has this gem (emphasis mine):

I understand the counties with a lower population of English speakers who may have difficulty accessing vaccines, but then we have places that are basically where "rich white people" live. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/08/vaccine_exemptions_in_california_threate.php

They commit crimes against logic and science everyday that they send their unimmunized petri-dish spawn to schools where children with compromised immune systems and newborn siblings attend. 
CLICK HERE TO READ THE WHOLE POST! (Trust me, it's worth it!)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Just the Vax: Polio in China

So I am a little behind in getting some of this news out, but I figured that it's important to repeat it, even if the news isn't fresh or new.  As many are probably aware, because of the vaccination program throughout the world, smallpox has been considered eliminated.  Polio was nearly to that status.  Sadly, it is not yet.  Currently there is an outbreak in China.
As of 13 September 2011, nine cases of polio have been reported in the Xinjiang region.  There has been one death.  All of the cases had wild-type polio 1 (WPV-1) which originated from Pakistan.  Xinjiang shares a border with Pakistan where polio is endemic, along with other neighbouring countries, India, Afghanistan and Tajikistan that are also polio-endemic.

Four children between the ages of four months and 2 years were infected in July, data for the other five are unknown but appear to be all infants, including the one fatality.  This is the first outbreak of polio in China since 1999, when an importation from India was identified.  The last indigenous case was in 1994.  An intense surveillance and vaccination programme has been launched in the region in hopes that the spread can be contained.  However, given that paralytic polio occurs in ~1% of polio cases and of that, 5-10% result in death and there were at least four cases of paralysis and one death, it is more than likely that hundreds, if not thousands of cases have gone undetected.
 Now, there are some countries where the WHO does consider polio eliminated.  Most countries throughout the world as a matter of fact.  Sadly the United States is NOT such a country (along with China, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan)!  I had been, but now we are facing the public health danger of anti-vax pro-disease propaganda, and we are having our public health standards dragged back to the last century.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Harpocrates Speaks: Speaking of Flu

So yesterday I made a post about a CDC re-evaluation of their flu model.  It seems that Harpocrates Speaks also covered this story.  But as usual, Todd went into a bit more detail, and I wanted to get that info out there (although I find it funny that both he and I keyed on very similar ideas in that post.  Almost as if the anti-vax pro-disease nutters are predictable in their lies).  From his post on this, if you scroll down a bit, he starts:

Speaking of the Flu

While we're on the subject, as temperatures drop, the air becomes drier and people start to congregate indoors more frequently, flu season starts to ramp up. Conditions are becoming ripe for transmission of the virus, and hospitals are places where we really cannot afford to spread the flu. There are a lot of individuals whose immune systems are less able to cope with infection, so even illnesses that might be mild in a healthy individual may become life-threatening. Whether the patients are walk-ins or in for long term care, children, adults or the elderly, it is vital for hospital employees to be vaccinated against the flu.

I'm not just talking about the doctors and nurses, here. I mean everyone that works in the hospital. At the very least, anyone who spends any amount of time in a patient area (waiting room, exam room, elevators, hallways, stairwells, lobbies) should be immunized if they have no medical reasons to the contrary. Hospitals and their employees should take steps to protect the health and well-being of their patients, and that includes taking measures to reduce the risk of infection.

I decided to take a look online to see if I could find any recent reports of vaccine rates among hospital employees and stumbled upon a survey of Maryland Hospital Healthcare Worker Influenza Vaccination (PDF). This was a self-reported, web-based survey of Maryland hospitals looking at total number of employees who received a vaccine, number that exempted out for medical reasons, number that exempted out for religious reasons and number that declined immunization but did not provide a reason, compared to the total number of employees at the hospital. Some hospitals had mandatory immunization policies with consequences for non-compliance (such as loss of privileges or even being fired), some had mandatory policies but no consequences for non-compliance and still others had no vaccination policy.

Good charts, graphs, and actual data there as opposed to simple assertions.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

CDC Actually Follows Scientific Methods

The CDC has released a correction to one of their reports.  Granted, it is a post hoc release, but the thing about it is that the CDC has actually revised the estimate because they realized their mistake, and they are honest about it.  This is really the greatest strength of science.  To refine things and get better results as information, methods, and knowledge evolves (see what I did there?).  I have never seen an anti-vax pro-disease nutter actually re-evaluate their position, no matter how much data is actually presented to them.

So here is the CDC Press release (emphasis mine):

Notice to Readers: Revised Estimates of the Public Health Impact of 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Vaccination

In the May 20, 2011, report, "Ten Great Public Health Achievements --- United States, 2001--2010," on page 621, preliminary estimates of the impact of public health interventions during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic were presented as follows: "These public health interventions prevented an estimated 5--10 million cases, 30,000 hospitalizations, and 1,500 deaths (1)." These estimates were derived using combined data from two sources: 1) an unpublished CDC model for estimating the impact of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza vaccine on averting cases, hospitalizations, and deaths during the 2009--10 influenza season and 2) a model for estimating the impact of antiviral treatment in averting hospitalizations and deaths during the 2009--10 season (2). As a result of a programming error, the model used to estimate the impact of vaccination did not adequately adjust for the decreasing risk for disease as the pandemic progressed, and thus the impact of vaccination was overestimated.

The corrected estimates for the combined impact from vaccine and antiviral treatment are as follows: 713,000 to 1.5 million cases, 12,300 to 23,000 hospitalizations, and 620 to 1,160 deaths averted. Of these, 713,000 to 1.5 million cases, 3,900 to 10,400 hospitalizations, and 200 to 520 deaths were averted as a result of the vaccination campaign (CDC, unpublished data, 2011), whereas the use of influenza antiviral medications is estimated to have prevented another 8,400 to 12,600 hospitalizations and another 420 to 640 deaths (2).

It is important to note that the error does not involve nor pertain to the effectiveness of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, nor to estimates of the burden of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which resulted in approximately 43 million to 89 million cases, 195,000 to 403,000 hospitalizations, and 8,900 to 18,300 deaths, including 910 to 1,880 deaths among children aged <18 years, during April 2009--April 2010 (3). CDC-supported evaluations have shown that the vaccine was effective in preventing influenza medical visits during the pandemic (4). However, because there was early widespread circulation of the 2009 H1N1 virus, many persons in the United States became ill before vaccine was available.

CDC continues to work on developing and evaluating statistical models for estimating the impact of influenza vaccination in order to develop better programs and ways to monitor the impact of those programs. CDC expects this work might lead to future publications that provide additional impact estimates.


  1. CDC. Ten great public health achievements---United States, 2001--2010, MMWR 2011;60:619--23.
  2. Atkins CY, Patel A, Taylor TH Jr, et al. Estimating effect of antiviral drug use during pandemic (H1N1) 2009 outbreak, United States. Emerg Infect Dis 2011;17:1591--8.
  3. Shrestha SS, Swerdlow DL, Borse RH, et al. Estimating the burden of 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) in the United States (April 2009---April, 2010). Clin Infect Dis 2011;52:S75--82.
  4. Griffin MR, Monto AS, Belongia EA, et al. Effectiveness of non-adjuvanted pandemic influenza A vaccines for preventing pandemic influenza acute respiratory illness visits in 4 U.S. communities. PLoS One 2011;6:e23085.
It's refreshing to see that there is a scientific method being adhered to.  If nothing else, that should be a reason for you to actually listen  to the CDC over the dogmatic denialists of the anti-vax pro-disease movement.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Who wants Smallpox Back?

Anyone manage to recall that smallpox has been declared "eradicated" in the world?  Is this such a bad thing?  I still have a smallpox scar since I was born in Sweden shortly after the smalpox scare in Stockholm.  Again, I think too many people have forgotten what life was like before vaccines.  That is to say, these diseases killed and disfigured millions, and we still had autism (they just called those people "difficult", retarded, anti-social, etc.)...

I take it you'd like to keep this disease eradicated, and possibly get rid of a few more? The advocate the responsible and reality based approach of real medicine which includes vaccines.

Friday, September 16, 2011

NBC Today: Doctors will refuse to see unvaccinated?

Some doctors are taking a stand.  While viscerally I agree with this policy, keep in mind that there are some people who just can't get vaccines for health reasons (which is why everyone else should ensure herd immunity, a fact that escapes the pro-disease nutters).  I hope that instead of taking a black and white approach, there is some common sense applied to this policy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Harpocrates Speaks: A Parent's Story of Vaccine Reaction

I am only going to provide the link to this story and urge you to read the entire post as well as the comments!  I also speak as a parent that has a child diagnosed on the autism spectrum, but still had her vaccinated as per the schedule.  Thankfully, she had no reactions!

A Parent's Story of Vaccine Reaction

Please share more of your stories with Todd W. if you would. Thank you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

7.1 Percent Of Marin Parents Refuse To Inoculate Their Children

This will not turn out well for these residents in the long run.  Purell(R) has no effect on measles and pretty much all the rest of the diseases that vaccines actually provide real protection against.
When a Larkspur woman’s healthy two-year-old heads off to pre-school she’ll do so without any vaccinations, a decision that has been viewed as controversial by many parents and health officials.

“I decided that I did not want to vaccinate her,” Sondra Kleghorn said. “I believe that vaccinations can cause more harm than good.”

Kleghorn said she doesn't talk about her decision with many people because like religion and politics, it's personal and controversial.

Kleghorn is just one of many Marin residents who have said no to vaccines for their children.

According to the Marin County Health Department, two percent of parents in California opted out of having their children vaccinated.

It's sad to see this sort of ignorance endanger someone who is too young to defend themselves from the bad decisions of an adult that is frankly just plain wrong.  And because so many adults use Purell(R) incorrectly, in the end it will probably do more harm than good for their families...  The misguided in-expert opinions of the masses are not a rational approach to issues like these...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chicken Pox? Not a threat, right?

So I'm sure many of you have heard of those "Catch the Pox" parties, or even attended them in your younger days.  Of course,science has made advances.  Things change.  People don't need to go to these parties and catch the disease.  And this young lady could probably tell you that she would much rather have her hand back!

The National Institute of Health lists these possible complications:
  • Newborns are at risk for severe infection, if they are exposed and their mothers are not immune.
  • Women who get chickenpox during pregnancy are at risk for congenital infection of the fetus.
  • A secondary infection of the blisters may occur.
  • Encephalitis is a serious, but rare complication.
  • Reye's syndrome, pneumonia, myocarditis, and transient arthritis are other possible complications of chickenpox.
  • Cerebellar ataxia may appear during the recovery phase or later. This is characterized by a very unsteady walk.
Just keep this list in mind. Again, we so readily forget what things were like 50-60 years ago when people actually worried about these diseases, and you were reminded of the terrible penalties in schools, at the shopping centers, etc.  I would much rather have these things be memories and historical documents, but the anti-vax pro-disease nutters seem to want to bring these things back in actuality.  I wonder if they own stock in the manufacture of iron lungs, crutches, and the like?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Measles in Minnesota

The Health Department in Minnesota is busy it seems.  They recently reported:
Three cases of measles in Minnesota have been confirmed during the month of August. The first case was an unvaccinated 12-month-old who acquired infection in Kenya. The second case was an unvaccinated 15-month-old who was exposed to the first case. Both cases were unvaccinated. A third case was confirmed on August 25 in a 43-year-old adult female with unknown vaccination history who was exposed to the first case in a health care setting. The third case was identified through public health follow-up of exposed persons. All three cases are residents of Dakota County. These cases are not related to the recent outbreak in Hennepin County.
So of course, now I am wondering about what is going on in Hennepin County.
Outbreak included 20 cases of measles linked to an individual who acquired infection in Kenya. 
And just in case anyone thinks that Measles is a nuisance disease, here is a list of complications that come along with it (oh how soon we forget!):
Complications with measles are relatively common, ranging from relatively mild and less serious diarrhea, to pneumonia, Otitis media and acute encephalitis (and rarely subacute sclerosing panencephalitis); corneal ulceration leading to corneal scarring. Complications are usually more severe in adults who catch the virus. While the vast majority of patients survive measles, complications occur fairly frequently, and may include bronchitis, and panencephalitis which is potentially fatal.

Mortality in developed countries is ~1/1000. In sub-Saharan Africa, mortality is ~10%. In cases with complications, the rate may rise to 20–30%. On average, ~450 children die every day from measles.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Evilution II - Caveman Boogaloo

Bryan Fischer joins the three pronged attack on Evilution where he has four points that disprove evolution and thus prove Governor Rick Perry as awesome and on the ball, not a backward hick with no knowledge of science.

Bryan Fischer is normally a hate filled sorry excuse for a human being whose crusade to deny homosexuals basic rights is well known. But here he dabbles his feet in the murky waters of creationism to defend Rick Perry which just is pathetic. He parrots out old hackneyed defences of creationism that simply don't even stand up to the mildest of scrutiny.

Evilution I - The Dawkinator

All Power to the Hypno-Dawkins

Part one of today's posts consists of wailing on the Washington Post's very own Jordan Sekulow, Lawyer and someone who Just Does Not Get Atheism. Which is perfectly fine, not everyone gets it. It's a choice to not get it, just like it is a choice to correct his misconceptions with how atheism, evolution and the world works.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

They are at it again!

Ah the usual quacks at Natural News are upto their old denials again.

See the problem is Natural News is a relatively large site so it gets hits quite easily from scared parents who want to find out more about this whole "vaccine bruhaha" so they find the site and quickly are scared into not vaccinating their child.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Vaccine Times: Universal Flu Vaccine Another Step Closer, But Still Far

This is exciting news, even though we still have a long way to go.  I suppose that even though this aligns with one of the goals of the anti-vax pro-disease nutters (i.e. fewer vaccines), I bet they will still find a fault in this line of research as well.  One of the hallmarks of their irrational thinking and poor logic is that nothing will ever make them happy.  I think one of the cool things about this research is that our understanding of molecular level evolution led us down this path.  Here we consistently hit on two of the most irrational denialisms on the planet in one post!
3D model of an influenza virus.
On the Apr-Jun 2011 issue of  The Vaccine Times we reported on a new flu shot being tested which could do away with our need for yearly flu shots.  The vaccine candidate, called VAX102 is based on an antibody called F16 which can target a common protein shared by all Influenza A viruses which are the most virulent and the most prone to mutation influenza viruses.

Recently U.S. scientists are reporting the finding of a new antibody which can tackle 30 of the 36 known strains of H1N1 (a virus of the A type) flu virus. The newly discovered antibody, called CH65, can stick to the surface part of the flu virus known as hemagglutinin which mutates every season, forcing the formulation of a new vaccine every year.