More real threats to public health

Let’s play a mental exercise. In this exercise you are a parent of a child. There is a virus out there that can give your child some nasty sores which can get infected with things like MRSA, a high fever, and make them feel like crap. Furthermore, because there are many people out there with compromised immune systems from things like HIV, treatment for auto-immune disease, or in treatment for cancer, you do not want that virus to be anywhere near them. It could be deadly to other people and cause your child to be sick. As a good parent, you want to protect your child and your community from this virus. So what do you do?

Do you immunize your child with a vaccine that has been shown to be safe and effective? The chances of a bad reaction from the vaccine are one-in-a-million, if that. Maybe there will be soreness at the site of the injection. Maybe, if your child is very young, he or she will be fuzzy and have a slight fever. Maybe. There won’t be any pustules, rashes, high fevers, or chance of death.

Or do you continue to propagate the virus with the flawed thinking that immunity this way is somehow “safe” or more “effective”? Do you do what this worthless excuse of a parent did:

No words.

No words.

That’s right. This parent went and got a lollipop from a person infected with chickenpox and gave them to their child. A lollipop that was licked by a sick child was given to a healthy child. Because THAT is safer than a vaccine?

It doesn’t stop there. The same group has other gems very openly displayed on their Facebook page:

chickenpox_mom3

Bullshit! The chickenpox vaccine is not given until 12 months of age. But truth has never been something these psychopaths can deal with.

chickenpox_mom2

chickenpox_mom

 

In case you missed it, these so-called parents knowingly and willingly expose their otherwise healthy children to an infectious agent that causes a disease capable of killing their children. But, you know, vaccines are the real evil in their world. I’d try to argue some sense with them, but this is the typical response you get from the anti-vaccine activists among them:

insult

Who can argue with reasoning like that?

If you picked the vaccine for our mental exercise, then you’re a reasonable and caring parent who looks after the health of their children. If you picked the infected lollipop, then you might as well hand over your children to people who will really care for them and step away before you kill them.

Advertisements

The Anti-Vaccine Reality Distortion Field

There used to be a time when diseases that are now vaccine-preventable used to be, well, non-preventable because there were no vaccines for them. Because we made it far as a species, it is the sincerely held belief from some anti-vaccine people that we don’t need vaccines. That, or they think that vaccine-preventable diseases are not deadly.

Take, for example, chicken pox (varicella). Before the vaccine was introduced in 1995, about 100 people or so died form it, and over 11,000 were hospitalized per year from chickenpox. In a country of several hundred million, 100 deaths don’t seem like a lot. You probably wouldn’t call chickenpox “deadly” at that rate. But try telling that to those 100 families. See if they agree with you.

Since the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine, the number of deaths per year from it in the United States has dropped to less than 5. Let that sink in for a little bit. Each year, 95 people who would have otherwise died from chickenpox are alive to be productive in society, to hug and love and be with those who love them. Let THAT sink in a little.
Ah, but no! Anti-vaccine advocates will go as far as organize chickenpox parties to expose their children to the virus. Willingly or not, they want to “up” that number from 5 to 10 or 20 or, why the [expletive] not, all the way back to status quo at 100 if we do away with the vaccine altogether. I think they do it because they are not the ones explaining to those 100 families why their loved ones died FROM A PREVENTABLE DISEASE.

That is, IF they believed that chickenpox kills. Perhaps because chickenpox deaths are rare, there are those in the anti-vaccine camp who believe that chickenpox doesn’t kill.

Exhibit A

The person on top was trying to show the person on the bottom that, yes, in fact, chickenpox does kill. It killed before, and it can kill again if we stop vaccinating. The person on the bottom would have none of it. The person on the bottom questioned the mental health of the other person for even suggesting that chickenpox kills. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the degree of denial that people who have swallowed anti-vaccine tropes hook, line, and sinker will go to.

In their version of reality, chickenpox doesn’t kill.

In the rest of the world’s version of reality, chickenpox not only kills. It can leave a child with all sorts of complications. It’s even worse for adults, causing swelling of the brain and other problems. In their version of reality, vaccines didn’t cause the >95% reduction in the number of deaths. In the real world, however, study after study, observational and experimental, has shown that the vaccine is nothing short of a gift from God.

In the real world, we had to explain to this family why chickenpox took their child.

Shingle all the way

Remember how I told you last time that anti-vaccine people will throw a true statement at you but not put in context in order to deceive? Well, they’re at it again. Actually, this is nothing new. This particular “gambit” has been around for a while, but I just recently encountered it in a blog with several people actually believing it. The gambit?

“Varicella vaccine is the cause of the rise in cases of shingles!”

Really?

To understand why this is an anti-vaccine gambit, it is necessary to understand three things: chickenpox, the varicella vaccine, and shingles. First, chickenpox is an infection with the varicella zoster virus (VZV). The infection causes respiratory problems, a diffused rash over the body, fever, and all sorts of other unsavory symptoms. You feel crappy. Worse yet, there are those who go on to develop all sorts of severe complications from it. I personally know a person who, as a child, lost their hearing because of it. Then there are those who get meningitis from chickenpox. A less severe complication, but one that weighed heavily on society, was that parents had to stay home with their sick children, and sick children could not go to school. Lots of productivity was lost when chickenpox was wild.

The thing about wild chickenpox is that once you get it, you have life-long immunity to it. At least that’s the idea. It’s changing a little bit because less and less children are coming down with it and exposing others. The less we are exposed, the less of a booster effect that our immune system gets from those exposures. On the other hand, the chickenpox vaccine gives the same type of immunity that you’d get from the infection, only without the infection. One shot, no symptoms, lots of immunity.

As the vaccine proliferated, more and more of us became immune without the wild virus out there to make the un-vaccinated sick. As that happened, those who already had chickenpox at some point in their lives missed out on the booster effect. As they missed those boosters from being exposed to kids with chickenpox, immune systems waned. As immune systems waned, shingles happened.

Shingles is a reactivation of the VZV in your nerve endings (usually around the abdomen or back). That’s right, VZV hides in your nerves and goes dormant. It may reactivate once in a while, but your immune system is so good at taking it out (after having learned how to do so the first time they met) that you don’t get the full rash. However, if your immune system is waning because it hasn’t been boosted, then you get shingles.

Let’s recap. If you get the wild virus:

  1. You get the infection and are subject to the complications thereof.
  2. Your immune system “remembers” the virus.
  3. Any leftover virus is dormant.
  4. If the dormant virus reactivates, your immune system knows how to deal with it.
  5. Your immune system gets boosted by being exposed to the wild virus.

If you get the vaccine virus:

  1. You don’t get the infection or the complications of chickenpox.
  2. Your immune system still “remembers” the virus, should it come into contact with either the wild or the vaccine again.
  3. There is controversy as to whether the vaccine virus goes dormant like the wild one does. We just haven’t had the vaccine long enough to see adults with shingles directly attributed to it. (Adults who never had chickenpox but develop shingles.)
  4. Your immune system gets boosted by being exposed to the wild virus.

Notice number 5 and number 4, respectively. If you don’t get exposed to the wild virus, you don’t get boosted. The wild virus is being averted by the wider and wider use of the chickenpox vaccine. Without that boosting, the immune system wanes and any dormant virus is allowed to be reactivated and give you shingles.

So, yes, the wider use of the vaccine is causing shingles, but not directly. Furthermore, there now is a shingles vaccine – which is basically a booster. You get that as an adult, and it “reminds” your immune system about VZV, keeping it at bay if it decides to reactivate. Both vaccines, the one you get as a kid and the shingles “booster” have been found to be safe and effective… And don’t cause shingles.

Next time someone tells you that the chickenpox vaccine causes shingles, give them the explanation above.

Free Shipping on Chickenpox When You Call Today!

From CBS 5 in Phoenix, Arizona: (give the video window a few seconds to load)

That’s right, folks, these nut jobs are mailing infectious pathogens.

Remember the weeks after September 11, 2011, when someone started mailing Anthrax to reporters, politicians, and others? Remember how much we collectively freaked out? Remember the lines of people waiting to get Cipro? Yeah, well, apparently a bacteria that is treatable with antibiotics is much more of a problem than a virus as infectious as chickenpox.

If chickenpox was the only thing these idiots were mailing.

Oh, no, they’re also mailing (or attempting to mail) measles and other pathogens. Please take the time and look at the video or read the report. Think of how nutty this whole thing is. The parents who are receiving these packages from total strangers may be exposing their children to other pathogens beyond chickenpox and measles. Things like hepatitis A and hepatitis B can also be transferred through saliva. Infectious mononucleosis as well. The flu and strep throat can be coming your way, too.

And then think of why anti-vaxers really are the weak link in the chain of humanity and the strong one in the chain of infection.

(Their Facebook page is closed to the public, by the way. They have something to fear, and they should. I hear the postal inspectors frown on pathogens in the mail.)

Others’ opinions on this: