Stories tagged vaccination

Jun
08
2008

The face of the enemy: Know it well.  They wait, biding their time, building up the strength of their numbers, and of their horrible, secret weapon of doom!
The face of the enemy: Know it well. They wait, biding their time, building up the strength of their numbers, and of their horrible, secret weapon of doom!Courtesy foxypar4

That’s sheep farts to you and me, and apparently it’s a major problem. There are over one billion sheep in the world. They spend their day, standing in the meadow, gamboling playfully, watching Sam, the big shaggy cartoon sheep dog, foil the ingenious but inevitably futile efforts of Ralph, the wolf who looks suspiciously like a coyote.

And eating. Grass is what sheep eat. Unfortunately, they can’t digest it. Instead, they have little tiny microbes in their stomachs (four stomachs per sheep) that break down the plant fiber for them.

Unfortunately, microbes are rude little creatures, emitting methane gas with every mouthful and nary an “excuse me” to be heard. The methane builds up inside the ovine until it escapes in the form of sheep farts. (And, seriously, if you ever have a chance to write an essay that can justifiably include the phrase “sheep farts,” then you should seize the opportunity and use the term just as often as you possibly can.)

Anyway, the methane (a.k.a. sheep farts) gets into the atmosphere where, some would have it, it will trap heat and warm the globe and eventually destroy civilization as we know it. This may or may not be a bad thing, but I personally would hate to see my home destroyed just because of sheep farts.

Fortunately some researchers in New Zealand have come to our rescue. These plucky kiwis are tackling the sheep fart menace head-on, trying to develop a vaccination that will improve the microbes’ table manners. An anxious world holds its breath – partly in anticipation of the coming breakthrough in sheep fart technology, but mostly in response to the sheep farts themselves.

The government began an unprecedented effort Friday to give vaccine critics a say in shaping how the nation researches safety questions surrounding immunizations.

A government-appointed working group is charged with picking the most important safety questions for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research over the next five years. (Wired News)

Apr
07
2008

Measles rash: This young boy has a 3 day old rash caused by the measles virus.
Measles rash: This young boy has a 3 day old rash caused by the measles virus.Courtesy CDC PHIL #1152

Recently, twelve people were diagnosed with measles in San Diego, another nine in Pima County Arizona. In Salzburg, Austria 180 people have been infected during a recent outbreak. Thankfully there haven’t been any deaths from these latest outbreaks.

People in Nigeria’s northern Katsina state have not been as lucky. At the moment they are facing a measles epidemic which has killed nearly two hundred children in the past three months, and infected thousands.

What’s going on?
It seams that parents, for a variety of reasons, are fearful of giving their children vaccinations. For nearly everyone, the measles vaccination is safe and effective and if you want more information about the vaccine click here. Measles outbreaks aren’t very common in the U.S., fewer than 100 per year. But in the pre-vaccine era, 3-4 million measles cases occurred every year in the US. This resulted in approximately 450 deaths, 28,000 hospitalizations and 1,000 children with chronic disabilities from measles encephalitis each year. These two outbreaks in the US serve as a reminder that unvaccinated people remain at risk for measles and that measles spreads rapidly without proper controls.

According to the WHO, around the world measles still kills 250,000 people each year. Most of these deaths occur in undeveloped nations where people don’t have access to vaccinations and healthcare. But it appears the problem in both Austria and Nigeria are unvaccinated children. In Nigeria many parents are afraid to vaccinate as reported in the VOA:

Katsina state's director of disease control, Halliru Idris, tells VOA that the outbreak is mostly affecting young people who have not been immunized. "I can tell you that over 95 percent of all the children that have measles are those whose parents have not allowed them to receive immunization," he said.
A handful of radical Islamic clerics instigated a boycott of infant vaccinations in northern Nigeria in 2003 and 2004, alleging that immunization was a western ploy to render Muslim girls infertile. Though the dispute has been resolved, parents still tend to avoid immunization.

In Austria officials fear that school administrators at the private school where the outbreak began advised parents against vaccinating their students. An investigation is ongoing.

So what should we do?
In Iowa the public health response to one imported measles case cost approximately $150,000. Should parents who choose not to vaccinate their children be responsible for these expenses? How do we balance personal choice and the good of the community?

Some microbes are resistant to antibiotics. Researchers in England have developed a way to change the molecular structure of antibiotics to make them more effective against these “superbugs.”

Over 90 per cent of the subjects in the phase 1 trials developed an immune response to HIV. The study was conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet (KI), Karolinska University Hospital and the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI).
Read more about the results from Swedish study of HIV vaccine at the Karolinska Institutet web site.

A study published in the most recent issue of Pediatrics shows that the rate of autism and related disorders increased even as thimerosal (a mercury preservative) was eliminated from vaccines and fewer children received the MMR vaccine. The study looked at 28,000 children over 11 years. This and other studies confirm that there is no evidence to suggest that the MMR vaccine increases the risk of autism.

The Pan American Health Organization is so alarmed that it has warned fans from the Americas to get immunised before leaving for Germany. New Scientist magazine

Apr
14
2006

Mumps outbreak concerns U.S. health officials

Some 515 cases (of mumps) have been reported in Iowa, plus 43 in Nebraska, 33 in Kansas, and single digits in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

"Why Iowa, and why now? We really don't know," said William Bellini of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "There are a lot of unknowns." Officials speculate that the epidemic might have been set off by someone from Britain, which has been experiencing a large mumps outbreak for several years.

Experts hope the relatively high U.S. vaccination rates will contain the outbreak. The tens of thousands of cases in Britain have been blamed on problems with that country's vaccination program, and concerns among some parents that childhood vaccines may increase the risk of autism, which left a significant proportion of the population unvaccinated.   (from San Francisco Chronicle)

Of the 245 patients this year, at least 66 percent had had the recommended two-shot vaccination, while 14 percent had received one dose, the Public Health Department said.

"The vaccine is working," Quinlisk said. "The vaccine certainly was made to cover this particular strain, because it's a fairly common strain of mumps." Quinlisk said the vaccine overall is considered about 95 percent effective.  (from Yahoo News)

Information about mumps by Mayo Clinic Staff

The mumps virus spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva. A person is considered contagious from three days before symptoms appear to about four days after. In general, you're considered immune to mumps if you've previously had the infection or if you've been immunized against mumps.

To stop the spread of the disease, those with mumps should not return to child care, school or work until five days after symptoms began or until they are well, whichever is longer. Individuals with known exposure to someone with mumps should have their immunization status checked. Those who have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine should be vaccinated.

Complications of mumps are rare but include:

  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Hearing loss
  • Inflammation of the testicles (orchitis)
  • Inflammation of the ovaries

In addition, mumps infection in the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage.

If you have unexplained swelling in your jaw and neck, or you have these symptoms after a known exposure to someone who has the mumps, call your doctor promptly.    by Mayo Clinic Staff

Want updates or have questions

Since the first report of mumps to IDPH, the state health department has monitored, communicated and educated health care providers and the public about the increase in numbers of cases. Mumps resources, including twice-weekly case updates, can be viewed on IDPH's Web site.

The Iowa Department of Public Health answers freqently asked questions about mumps here.

Mumps information in Wikipedia