But Hepatitis A is a disease of the unclean! WTF?!

It was a little over a year ago that I told you what the National Vaccine Information Center had to say about hepatitis A. Oh, yes, they do mention that you can contract Hepatitis A through contaminated food, but they seem to make a special effort to tell you that you’re okay in the good old USA:

“Hepatitis A is spread almost exclusively by the fecal-oral route and is most often associated with poor sanitation and hygiene, and overcrowded living conditions.

It also is associated with lower socioeconomic status, certain sexual practices, and injected drug use. However, outbreaks of hepatitis A have also occurred in restaurants, daycare centers, nursing homes, and other institutions and community settings.

Some outbreaks of hepatitis A have been traced to contaminated food, water, milk, frozen raspberries and strawberries, and shellfish.

Among adults with identified risk factors, the majority of cases are among men who have sex with men, persons who use illegal drugs, and international travelers. Because transmission of hepatitis A during sexual activity probably occurs because of fecal-oral contact, measures typically used to prevent the transmission of other STDs (e.g., use of condoms) do not prevent hepatitis A transmission.

Hepatitis A infections also have been linked to children adopted from certain countries.”

Those damned immigrant children! Oh, and this:

“Poor personal hygiene can increase the chances of spreading hepatitis A. That is why frequent hand washing with soap and water, particularly after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing or eating food, is very important in preventing the spread of hepatitis A.

It also has been identified as a risk factor in daycare centers and intensive care neonatal units.

Travel to Third World countries, where hepatitis A is more prevalent, also is an identified risk factor for getting this infection.”

They seem to be obsessed with third world countries. While it is true that there is a higher incidence of Hep A in third world countries, there is also plenty of Hep A to go around here in the States. But have no fear, there is a vaccine, and this is what that USA Today article has to say about the vaccine and the current outbreak:

“Of the 79 people in seven states who have become ill with the deadly liver disease, only one was a child. Health officials initially feared that the youngest would be hit hardest because the contaminated frozen berries are used in smoothies, popsicles and other warm-weather treats popular among children.

They credit routine vaccinations against hepatitis A since 2006 with protecting children.

“The very, very small number of children involved in this outbreak probably reflects the high vaccination coverage as the result of the routine immunization,” said John Ward, who directs the viral hepatitis program at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The one child who did become ill, a 2-year-old, was not vaccinated, Ward said.”

Imagine that. A vaccine that works, is safe, and can keep children safe from an unneeded medical condition. (Not that there is a “needed” medical condition, but anti-vaxxers will tell you that you “need” chickenpox and measles to make you “stronger.”) Of course, I can play Devil’s Advocate and tell you that children are more likely to be asymptomatic. So you’re less likely to pick up cases of children being sick. BUT you’d see the symptomatic adults that take care of those children. That’s the catch. That’s where the misinformation dealers try to trick you.

I can’t tell you my sources, of course, but those adult cases right now have had children in the household tested, and they’re negative for hepatitis A IgM, the antibody indicator of acute infection. They’re also negative for Hep A virus in the stool. Imagine that.

Of course, leave it up to NVIC to tell you that the vaccine is horrible:

“There is a gap in medical knowledge in terms of predicting who will have an adverse reaction to the hepatitis A vaccine and who will not.

However, reading the manufacturer’s product package inserts (see below) under “contraindications, warnings and precautions, and adverse reactions,” will help you weigh the vaccine’s benefits and risks before making a decision for yourself or your child.

Within the hepatitis A manufacturers’ vaccine package inserts, some of the adverse events reported ranged from fever, to nausea and loss of appetite, to dizziness, and neuromuscular symptoms, including Guillian Barre Syndrome.

According to the CDC, some of the other risks and side effects from this vaccine are:

Mild problems

  • Soreness where the shot was given (about 1 out of 2 adults, and up to 1 out of 6 children)
  • Headache (about 1 out of 6 adults and 1 out of 25 children)
  • Loss of appetite (about 1 out of 12 children)
  • Tiredness (about 1 out of 14 adults)
  • If these problems occur, they usually last 1 or 2 days.

Severe problems

  • Serious allergic reaction, within a few minutes to a few hours of the shot (very rare)”

I bolded and underlined the part about the vaccine package insert because it’s a common ploy of the anti-vaccine groups. See, the manufacturers need to put in the inserts those things that were reported during vaccine trials, whether they happened as a cause of the vaccine or not. If someone caught the flu during the trials, guess what? You have to put in there that “fever” or “nausea” was reported. Guillain-Barre Syndrome happens on it’s own in 1 out of 1,000,000 people, so they would have had to put that on the vaccine insert if one of the people during the trial got it. Furthermore, they need to put in the insert anything that happens after it’s licensed and it’s causally associated with the vaccine. There have been no cases of GBS causally associated with the vaccine, and people who get the vaccine are not at a higher risk for GBS.

So what do we have here? We have an outbreak of hepatitis A in the United States of America, the world’s lone superpower (as long as you don’t tell the Chinese). We’re clean, we wash our hands, and we screen our “third world babies” when we adopt them. (And, in Texas, we don’t have men who have sex with men. [Yeah, we do.])  In that outbreak, one child has been confirmed as a case, and that child was not vaccinated. The vaccinated children in the household of cases tested so far are not sick, and not even infectious (no virus in stool).

One of my colleagues said the other day that people who handle food, from the farm to the plate, should be required to get the Hep A vaccine. I completely agree. Since most of the cases in the US are primarily associated to contaminated food, this would seriously cut down on the number of outbreaks. However, I would go one step further and vaccinate all inmates as they are incarcerated, anyone who has liver disease, and all children, so they don’t pass it on to unsuspecting adults in their family or to other children in their schools.

After all, the benefits outweigh the risks.