People who have come to know me over the last year or so that I’ve been blogging, know that I am all about teaching science and technology to our youngsters so that we don’t go down the path of destruction as a nation and a society. Knowing science and technology will help our kids distinguish between good and evil, between things that are and things that can’t possibly be. When they read the news or hear the soothsayers and politicians, kids who know about science and technology will think critically about what they are reading and not fall for the lies while defending the truth.
Unfortunately, we’re not quite there.
If you’ve been watching the news lately, you know that there is an outbreak of fungal meningitis
going on in the United States right now (October 2012). It is being caused by contaminated batches of a steroid injection that is given into the spinal column of persons with chronic pain. It’s supposed to relieve the inflammation that may be causing the pain. Unfortunately, it seems that a company that compounded — put together — these steroid injections had a problem with their quality control that allowed for the batches to be contaminated with Aspergillus
, a fungus that is found most everywhere in the environment.
Okay, so you have the facts. The outbreak is being caused by a fungus that got into injections given for pain. A fungus is causing this. People are being infected and dying from a fungus.
Now, if you went to school and paid attention in basic biology, you will know that fungi are not bacteria. You will know that bacteria are not fungi. There will be knowledge in your head that tells you that bacteria and fungi are not the same thing.
On the other hand, if you’re the anti-science, anti-vaccine type, then you will think that meningitis caused by a fungal agent (Aspergillus) is surely a plot to get more people to get the vaccine against bacterial meningitis, like this lady does:
|Put me down for a $1,000. This is a sure thing!
Of course, this “knowledgeable” anti-vaxxer also asserts that “vaccination confers no protection against any form of meningitis likely to be deadly or even to cause serious morbidity.” And the additional conspiracy theory delusion that “these vaccination injections won’t be contaminated with fungal meningitis as a ‘little extra something’ to get for the money that you will be forced to cough up for the shot?”
I wish I was making this up. Clearly, Margaret doesn’t know the difference between fungi and bacteria, based on the evidence she has presented. And what is that about vaccinations, meningitis, and morbidity?
If she had been educated in how to conduct proper research on topics before she spewed her anti-vaccine rhetoric, Margaret would have stumbled onto such evidence as this:
Basically, our current body of knowledge about meningitis (the bacterial, vaccine-preventable kind) tells us that it is a major source of morbidity and mortality. We also know that vaccines against the principal strains of meningitis-causing bacteria have reduced the indices of death and disability from them. This is why we continue to push vaccination on vulnerable populations. You see, people can and do die from bacterial meningitis, and many are debilitated or crippled by it. Just ask Rayna DuBose
, who lost her limbs to bacterial meningitis while in college. Or go ask Olivia Giles
, who also lost limbs to bacterial meningitis.
Maybe Margaret would like to submit her theory to the parents of Jacob Nunley
In any case, when an opponent to vaccines delivers such anti-science sentiments, we need to stand against them. If someone was on the fence about the meningococcal, streptococcal, or Hib vaccine for their kid and read Margaret’s statement, and then decided not to vaccinate, then that person may very well be placing themselves and others at risk. Bacterial meningitis is very contagious. Bacterial meningitis is very serious. Bacterial meningitis is very deadly.
Words have consequences, and so does ignorance.