Israeli flight attendant in coma from measles

❝ An Israeli flight attendant has slipped into a coma after contracting measles, according to health officials.

The 43-year-old woman has encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, a well-known and potentially deadly complication of the virus. She was otherwise healthy before getting measles.

She’s been in a deep coma for 10 days, and we’re now just hoping for the best,” said Dr. Itamar Grotto, associate director general of Israel’s Ministry of Health…

❝ “I knew this was going to happen sooner or later,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University and an adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccines. “We have the reintroduction of a serious viral infection with a population that’s withholding the vaccine from their children, and now it’s spreading beyond that population.”

RTFA, please! Learn a little bit more science.

Anti-vaccination nutballs are a plague unto all

❝ An outbreak of measles four years ago at Disneyland focused attention on a growing health menace — the refusal of parents to vaccinate their children. The threat has gone international. The World Health Organization has just named the anti-vaccination movement among the 10 biggest global health crises…

❝ The “vaccine-hesitant” — the WHO’s politer term — often wave ignorant junk-science claims that vaccines can cause autism. This dangerous lie gained traction in a 1998 article published in the prestigious British journal The Lancet. It turned out that lawyers suing vaccine-makers were funding the author, Andrew Wakefield. Britain subsequently stripped Wakefield of the right to practice medicine.

❝ In this country, 18 states still allow “nonmedical exemptions” for vaccinating children based on a philosophical belief. Requests for such exemptions are rising in 12 of them.

New York state is seeing its most troubling measles outbreak in decades. Almost all the cases occur among ultra-Orthodox Jews, whose insular communities have been ripe for anti-vaccine propagandists. William Handler, an Orthodox rabbi in Brooklyn, told Vox that parents who “placate the gods of vaccination” are engaging in “child sacrifice…”

Once vaccination levels fall below 95 percent, epidemiologists explain, there aren’t enough people to hold the disease in check. And measles is highly contagious. The virus floats in the air and can live on surfaces for hours.

Scientifically-illiterate Americans have a perfect right to infect their families with preventable diseases in a number of states. Introducing contagion – of course – which especially threatens so many others whose circumstances are limited by income and age.

Largest current US measles outbreak centered in for-profit prison system

Health officials in Arizona say the largest current measles outbreak in the United States is in part because some workers at a federal immigration detention center refuse to get vaccinated.

Authorities have confirmed 22 measles cases in Arizona since late May. They all stem from the Eloy Detention Center, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility managed by the private Corrections Corporation of America.

Pinal County health director Thomas Schryer said the outbreak likely began with a migrant but that detainees have since been vaccinated. Convincing employees to get vaccinated or show proof of immunity has proven much tougher, he said.

“And so they’re actually the ones that are passing along the measles among each other and then going out into the community,” Schryer said.

The facility includes about 350 CCA employees and an unknown number of ICE staffers, although Schryer estimates it’s about 100. ICE doesn’t publicly release staffing levels, nor does it require employees to be immunized. There are currently over 1,200 detainees being held at the facility…

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ says the facility has been more responsive in the past few days and that a large number of CCA employees were immunized late last week. “Once they understand how important it is and the outcomes it can have on the community, they tend to cooperate. So we hope to get a cooperative response from ICE,” Christ said.

The problem is reckoned to be one of ignorance rather than stupidity.

Measles is highly contagious and preventable through vaccines. It was eradicated in the US in 2000. But the past couple of years have seen new cases in large part because of unfounded stupid fears that the vaccination causes autism in children, Schryer said. The symptoms are usually mild but can be deadly in babies, who cannot be immunized until they’re a year old…

In Arizona, health officials are providing free vaccines, sending physicians to the detention center and providing educational outreach to staffers in an effort to contain the measles spread.

Now, imagine a whole nation run by Reaganomics hustlers like CCA. Tax dollars diverted into for-profit replacements for public service systems. Increase the profit structure by hiring less-educated, less-qualified scabs. Cross your fingers and hope you don’t end up with so many people dying you attract attention.

Enough to make a Congressional Republican cry with joy.

There’s a reason it’s called Public Health

Physicians and other healthcare workers who refuse influenza immunization at 535-bed Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia can’t work in patient care.

“If you don’t want to get the vaccine, you have two weeks of unpaid leave to think about it, and if you still don’t want to get it, you’re fired,” said Paul Offit, MD, CHOP’s Chief of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center.

There’s no provision to let workers wear a mask instead, like many healthcare facilities allow, because he said, “masks aren’t particularly effective…”

As healthcare organizations rush to comply with new federal immunization reporting requirements for their workers, many infection control experts are questioning the mask option, saying it’s an inefficient, ineffective, and dehumanizing alternative to immunization, one that gives workers an excuse not to get their annual flu vaccines.

Mask mandates are “a silly half-way measure that really doesn’t serve any useful purpose other than to identify a person as a healthcare worker who is choosing not to get vaccinated — selfishly,” Offit said. “You might as well wear a scarlet letter for all the good it does…”

The national average for vaccine refusal by hospital workers is 18%, and some hospitals report they have reduced the refusal rate to 10%, but other hospitals’ have lagged…

Bonnie Castillo, National Nurses United said…”If we in the healthcare and science communities are spreading bogus science on one hand, how do we expect to be credible on any other topic of infectious disease, or worker and patient protection? You have to be consistent.”

For Offit, a focus on getting all healthcare workers immunized is really the only solution to keeping patients safe from infection. One must remember that patients’ lives are at stake, he said…

Several years ago, a child with cancer “came into this hospital for care, but caught the influenza virus in this hospital and died from it,” he said. “She no doubt caught it from us.”

If you want a job in a science-based facility, it’s perfectly reasonable to require that you perform your work up to the standards of the science involved. If you can’t agree to that, then it’s your responsibility to find employment where your beliefs fit.

The same responsibility should apply to the facility. As Dr. Offit makes clear. You ain’t about to treat burns by spitting on them and rubbing in soot…because your patient’s shaman said that’s the appropriate traditional treatment.

Yes, I’ve been in a hospital where that question had to be answered.

From the Borowitz Report: Zombie Jonas Salk rises from his grave to hunt idjits

The reanimated corpse of Dr. Jonas Salk, the medical researcher who developed the first polio vaccine, rose from the grave Friday morning on what authorities believe is a mission to hunt down idiots.

The zombie version of Salk, wearing a tattered white lab coat and looking “incredibly angry” according to one eyewitness, was seen advancing on the U.S. Capitol building at approximately 11 A.M.

While Senator Rand Paul, of Kentucky, hid in the Senate cloakroom, armed security forces repelled the zombie virologist, who, seemingly unharmed, moved on in search of new prey.

According to law enforcement, the reanimated Salk then stole a car and headed off in the direction of Trenton, New Jersey.

“We have reason to believe he’s coming for Governor Christie,” said a staff member from Chris Christie’s office. “Fortunately, the Governor is never here.”

With both Disneyland and Marin County on high alert, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security warned that, as long as the rampaging vaccine pioneer was at large, law enforcement would be stretched thin.

“Unfortunately, we do not possess the resources to protect every idiot in this country,” the spokesman said.

Gotta love satire from Andy Borowitz. He spends a delightful amount of time separating the two questions often examined in this blog – and many others. Does our nation lead the world in ignorant people – or stupid people?