Do you like being lied to?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being lied to. Yes, the word “lie” is very accusatory, and I better have some damn good evidence to back up any accusations of lying. So, like Jack the Ripper once said, “Let’s take this one piece at a time.”

This is what an anti-vaccine activist wrote in a letter to try and discredit Dr. Paul Offit, the co-developer of a vaccine against rotavirus (my emphases in bold):

“Paul Offit is a doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and is very often seen in vaccine autism stories making claims that vaccines are safe and have no relationship to autism.  But what those stories do not tell the audience is that Paul Offit is a vaccine patent holder and consultant for Merck Pharmaceuticals.  He is a co-creator of the Merck RotaTeq vaccine that is on the CDC’s current vaccine schedule.  It is a vaccine that prevents Rota Virus, a benign virus under which subjects experience a miserable day or so of diarrhea and vomiting, and from which you usually gain immunity after having it twice.  The CDC recommends treating it at home with Pedialyte to prevent dehydration.  In third world countries, Rota virus can be a more serious threat to children’s health, because death can occur from severe dehydration due to lack of infrastructure, clean water and basic sanitation.  But in the US, it is not a serious health threat to any one with indoor plumbing or within driving distance to a 7-11.” Continue reading

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Happy Birthday, Dr. Paul Offit

Happy Birthday, Dr. Paul Offit

Dr. Paul Offit (right) and his colleague, Dr. H. Fred Clark, worked together on developing a vaccine against rotavirus. Rotavirus causes severe diarrhea, dehydration, and — left untreated — death in children. The vaccine they developed along with Dr. Stanley Plotkin is credited with saving many, many lives. Today is Dr. Offit’s birthday.

Someone doesn’t understand the difference between a virus and DNA

A virus is an infectious agent that can replicate inside the cells of the host it infects. Did you read that? It is an infectious agent. It can replicate inside the cells of the host it infects. A virus is also made up of DNA or RNA (genetic material) encapsulated in an envelope made up of protein or lipid (fat) or both. If a jelly-filled doughnut is a virus, then the dough is the envelope. The jelly is the genetic material. This doughnut would need to be put inside an over (host cells) to replicate. It wouldn’t be able to do it without that over.

Not only that, but the over would have to be a specific type of oven. See, the viruses that cause hepatitis only infect liver cells. The viruses that cause common colds only infect the respiratory pathway. The virus that causes AIDS? It only infects immune cells called T cells. They really are that specific.

Not only that, but viruses are species-specific. Viruses that infect one species need to adapt in order to infect another species. There are viruses all over you right now, and you’re perfectly healthy because they’re not adapted to infect you. However, they might bring death to, say, a cat. Yes, there are viruses like the flu which cross from species to another, but that spillover is not easy. (“Spillover” is also a book you should read.) Continue reading