Daily Clips

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COLUMN: The Anti-Vaxxer Illness Worse Than Zika
The Daily Beast
March 25, 2017
"The emergence of the Zika virus and the health crisis it has ignited has frightened American citizens traveling abroad-and for good reason. Zika virus can cause birth defects to babies infected in utero, including potentially lifelong damage to the nervous system. What most American travelers don't realize, however, is that there is another virus out there that is far more common, far more contagious, and far more devastating to the unborn child. Most people just thought it was gone... Currently, a vaccine to prevent Zika virus isn't commercially available. If it were, I suspect that most people in the United States planning on traveling to a country where Zika virus has been circulating would get it. At the same time, most American travelers wouldn't give a second thought to a virus that is arguably far more worrisome: rubella. The differences between Zika and rubella are striking. Zika virus has been reported in 60 countries, rubella virus in 129... Zika virus infects the brain of the unborn child. Rubella virus infects every organ, causing deafness, blindness, cataracts, retinitis, glaucoma, encephalitis, severe heart abnormalities, severe intrauterine growth retardation, bone thinning, enlargement of the liver and spleen, bleeding, pneumonia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and autism...PAUL OFFIT, MD."
The Emotional Resonance of Lies-And What We Can Do To Defeat Them
The Daily Beast
March 25, 2017
"To those of us who care about details and facts (there, I said the 'f' word), these past few months have been troubling times. We are told by the highest office in the country that facts don't matter... Pattern detection also fools us when we get to thinking that correlation and causation are the same thing. Just because two things co-occur, or one follows the other, doesn't mean that first one caused the second one. We don't vaccinate children until they reach a certain age because that's when their bodies can handle immunization. And we can't diagnose autism until a certain age because, by definition, autism is a delay in normal development-we need to wait long enough to detect it. And so it happens that a child diagnosed with autism will have received a vaccination before the diagnosis. Of the millions of children who get the MMR vaccine, only a small percentage become diagnosed with autism. And the same proportion of children who don't get the MMR vaccine are also diagnosed with autism. But our pattern detectors are not equipped to make such reasoned judgments."
OPINION: The HPV vaccine - it’s cancer prevention in the hands of physicians and parents
The Hill
March 26, 2017
"As a gynecologic oncology fellow, I have the privilege of caring for women with gynecologic cancers in their greatest time of need. However, one of the most troubling experiences is caring for women whose disease could have potentially been prevented, such as those cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV)...While Pap smear screening and HPV testing are methods of identifying cervical cancer precursors, with the goal of treating them before they become malignant, we now have the ability to prevent precancerous lesions from developing at all. The first HPV vaccine was approved for use by the FDA in 2006, and it represents the first time we have the real possibility of preventing a cancer with a vaccine. We have more than a decade of data to suggest it is both effective and safe. In late 2014, an updated vaccine was approved which prevents infection from nine HPV subtypes, with the potential to prevent up to 90 percent of cervical cancers...Anna Beavis, MD, MPH clinical gynecologic oncology fellow with The Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service at Johns Hopkins Hospital"
Vaccination exemption rates higher on Cape, Islands
Cape Cod Times (MA)
March 25, 2017
"The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says fewer Cape and Islands kindergartners are starting school with all of their vaccinations up to date than children in other parts of the state. Dukes County on Martha's Vineyard leads the state in vaccine exemptions for medical and religious reasons. The DPH says 8.2 percent of children entering kindergarten on Martha's Vineyard in the 2015-16 school year were not up to date on one or more vaccines. Statewide, the percentage of kindergartners receiving exemptions was 1.3 percent, while the rate for Barnstable County was 3.5 percent and the rate for Nantucket County was 3.3 percent. Only Hampshire County in the western part of the state reported more exemptions than Barnstable and Nantucket counties, with 4.1 percent of kindergartners being exempted from one or more vaccines in the series of shots recommended by pediatricians and schools."
Immunization rates plateau in Virginia over recent years
The Roanoke Times (VA)
March 26, 2017
"James Farrell Director of the Division of Immunization for the Virginia Department of Health. After working with the Virginia Department of Health since 1983, James Farrell is preparing to retire from his position as vaccination director - but he leaves with concerns. Vaccination rates in Virginia have plateaued. 'We're not making any great advances, and we're not declining,' he said. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state's childhood immunization rates are not especially low on the nationwide scale, but neither is Virginia among the country's best performers. In Virginia, according to the state Department of Health, the rate of children ages 19 months to 35 months who received their immunizations in 2015 was 64.4 percent, compared with the 72.2 percent national average. But in 2014, Virginia's rate was 73.7 percent - above the national average of 71.6 percent."
New immunization requirements for students in Iowa
March 27, 2017
"New school immunization requirements for 7th grade and 12th grade students start this fall in Iowa. It requires each student to get the meningitis vaccine before starting school. Although It's pretty rare, meningitis could be fatal. Iowa has reported just 12 cases in the last five years. But the CDC says 10-15% of people with meningitis will die. Those who do recover can suffer serious effects such as amputation, hearing loss or brain damage. The disease spreads through close contact, which makes it a very common disease for high schools and especially colleges. Right now, only 64% of Iowa teenagers get the vaccine, compared to 89% for vaccines like measles, mumps, rubella, that are already required. Adding the meningitis vaccine to the required list should improve those rates."
“University of Washington mumps outbreak now at 20 cases
Outbreak News Today
March 25, 2017
"One of the states hit hardest by mumps in the past six months is Washington. Since October 2016, state health officials have reported 664 confirmed and probable cases through this week. 473 of the cases have been reported since the beginning of the year. Fifteen counties in WA have had mumps cases with onset dates during the first 11 weeks of 2017: Benton, Ferry, Franklin, Grant, Island, King, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston and Yakima. Spokane and King Counties account for the majority of cases. The outbreak has extended to the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. To date, Public Health - Seattle & King County has confirmed 20 cases of mumps at UW. More cases are expected as the outbreak across King County and Washington State continues. Seattle has seen 25 cases as of Friday. The reported cases of mumps have been found in a small number of fraternities and sororities near the UW Seattle campus. The number of mumps cases and impacted houses changes daily as suspected cases emerge and are confirmed (or ruled out) by Public Health - Seattle & King County."
Officials monitoring Kansas mumps outbreak
The Hays Daily-News (KS)
March 26, 2017
"Local health officials are continuing to monitor a statewide mumps outbreak that so far has resulted in 13 suspected cases of the illness in Ellis County. Only two of those individuals have tested positive, said Kerry McCue, Ellis County health services administrator. Both of those individuals are 'well past' the contagious period, he said. When a positive mumps case is identified, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment requires a five-day quarantine. Residents are encouraged to make sure they are vaccinated and might have the option of a 'booster shot' as a precaution. There is not yet a recommended time when someone should get a booster, but that could change if the outbreak continues, McCue said."
Cedar Hill ISD Continues To Battle Mumps Outbreak
Focus Daily News (TX)
March 25, 2017
"This week Dallas County health officials announced another increase in the number of Mumps cases at Cedar Hill High School. According to DCHHS, since the initial outbreak on February 9, there have been 49 cases reported between students and teachers. That is a drastic increase since the last reported update of 28 cases, as students prepared for the Spring Break holiday. Cedar Hill Independent School District borders Ellis County as well, County Spokesperson Renae Crutchfield, did note not all cases are Dallas County residents. To date, there have been 63 mumps cases in Dallas County. DCHHS has also identified 14 unrelated mumps cases in Mesquite, Dallas and neighboring DeSoto."
Mumps outbreak slowing in state
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (AR)
March 27, 2017
"The number of new mumps cases in Arkansas is the lowest since the outbreak began in August, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. March has averaged about two new cases per day, the department's tally shows. On Wednesday, only six counties in the state had mumps cases -- Benton, Carroll, Washington and Madison in Northwest Arkansas; Sevier in southwest Arkansas; and Greene in the state's northeast. At the peak of last year's outbreak, cities and school districts in more than 30 counties had active cases. The 2,898 current number of cases is still high compared with typical years, when only a handful of people throughout the entire state showed symptoms of the virus. Mumps symptoms include aches and fevers, and swollen salivary glands, and the virus is spread primarily through coughing and sneezing. Roughly half of the nation's mumps cases since the beginning of 2016 were in Arkansas, according to figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta."
Nebraska reports measles case in Omaha area
Outbreak News Today
March 24, 2017
"The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services received a report of a confirmed measles case in eastern Nebraska. The person spent time in both Douglas and Sarpy counties...it's possible that other people who were in the same locations may have been exposed...Measles is not a new disease but it's something we haven't seen very often in Nebraska over the last several decades. There were no measles cases in 2016, three in 2015 and one measles case in 2014. Prior to that, the last measles case in a Nebraska resident was in the early 90s."
Officials warn about Detroit-area hepatitis A cases
The Detroit News (MI)
March 24, 2017
"An increase in hepatitis A cases in Metro Detroit spurred state health officials Friday to urge residents to get vaccinated. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said there have been 107 laboratory-confirmed cases of the preventable liver disease in Detroit and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties since August - more than eight-times the number reported during the same time period last year. Two of those people died. The disease can be spread through contact with objects, food or water contaminated by feces from an infected person, but can be prevented if people get vaccinated. DHHS and local health departments 'are increasing outreach to vulnerable populations to raise awareness and promote vaccination of hepatitis A,' Dr. Eden Wells, Michigan's chief medical executive, said in a press release."
ONLY ON KRON4: Confirmed case of meningitis could have spread at East Bay high school swim meet
March 24, 2017
"Students at some Bay Area high schools are hearing about a confirmed case of meningitis that could have spread at a recent swim meet. The Contra Costa County Health Department confirms one case of meningitis in the county. Based on some emails parents have told KRON4 about, it is a student on the Miramonte High swim team. Their swim team recently competed in a meet at Dougherty Valley High School on Mar. 18. As such, health and school officials have been giving parents of athletes who were at that meet a heads up. They were urged to take their kids to the doctor to get antibiotics for meningitis, just as a precaution."
OPINION: Lindsey: Rights of parents do matter in Texas
Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
March 24, 2017
"Transparency is a bedrock principle for public education in Texas. Every school is rated, and those ratings are made public. School leaders work overtime to prepare students for standardized tests, knowing that school ratings are a grade on their performance. Schools with high ratings frequently publicize their success. And many parents of school-aged children choose their home and neighborhood based on the quality of the local schools. If transparency concerning the quality of education in your local school is an important value, shouldn't the same apply to the health risks posed to your children in those very same schools? As a parent, shouldn't you know the immunization rates and the number of unimmunized children enrolled at your local campus when choosing a school or a neighborhood in which to live? With mumps and measles outbreaks occurring around the country, and even here in Texas, wouldn't any parent want to know whether their child's campus is susceptible to an outbreak?...Stephanie Lindsey, Coordinator for the Texas Tech University Health Science Center, and Member of Immunize Texas."
My teenage daughter is refusing the HPV vaccine
Motherwell Magazine
March 13, 2017
"My daughter Julia is going off the grid. She is currently living in the woods behind my house, with a dog-eared paperback of Thoreau's Walden and a quill pen to underline her favorite passages. She's even disposed of her iPhone. What prompted this distrust of modern life and its creature comforts was her father's and my insistence that she receive the Gardasil shot, an eleven-year-old vaccine that protects against nine strains of cancer-causing HPV. She is unflappable in her conviction that the vaccination will do irreparable damage to her body-and no amount of logic will change her mind. Shots are rational. They are a gift for my children; a way I can protect them long after they leave the shelter of my home. I was not the parent who winced when the needle stabbed my baby's leg, and Julia's first year went smoothly as the strict schedule of vaccines were administered at monthly well visits. But somewhere around 15 months, as the nurse was about to give her a shot, she smiled, fleetingly, before dissolving into wails and shrieks unlike any that had come before."