Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thank you American Airlines, for not spreading anti-vaccine lies

After fast and furious consumer protest and the petition that Paul Gallagher started raising over 2500 signatures in under two days, it appears American Airlines has seen the light of day and will not give vile anti-vaccine lies a platform in the in-flight "infotainment". Thank you American Airlines - thank you all who wrote, tweeted and signed!

ETA (26/4/2012) - the local (Australian) newspaper have apparently picked up on this and correctly identify the AVN as anti-vaccine on their first page:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Australian AntiVaccination Network to advertise on American Airlines

The CDC reported a couple of days ago, that 90% of the US' 2011 record 222 measles cases were associated with imports from other countries, nearly 90% of patients were unvaccinated or with unknown vaccination status; and of those eligible to have received the vaccine, a whopping 76% had a non-medical exemption. These numbers stress the significant risk of vaccine refusal. Measles imports into the United States come at substantial medical risk and cost, about $10000 per measles case and over $700 in income loss and other costs per quarantined family. Recent outbreaks in California, Utah, Minnesota and Arizona have cost the health system/hospitals between $130000 and $800000 to contain.

Less than a year ago, an unvaccinated infant, returning from India, exposed passengers of American Airlines flight AA3965 from Chigaco to Des Moines to measles. As a consequence of this measles import, 100 persons had to be contacted about their exposure, 25 had to be quarantined.

American Airlines seem to have a very short memory. Apparently, they are planning to feature the notorious Australian anti-vaccine campaigner Meryl Dorey of The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), via it's in-flight "Executive Report" media and "American Way" magazine, from July to August 2012. The interview (transcript) is clearly intended to discourage parents from vaccinating, which we know will lead to resurgence of deadly diseases, like measles and pertussis. I am not sure that disease is what American Airlines means to "give back to our communities".

You don't think deadly disease should be encouraged by advertising? There is a petition - sign it!

ETA (24/04/2012): see fab update!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Beginning of Something Much Larger (or not)

Every once in a while, I see something that makes my jaw drop

Mom thinks her daughter has measles, she wants to take her daughter to see her (vaccine friendly negligent) doctor in the morning. Instead of debating quarantine, a discussion about oatmeal/baking soda baths ensues.

So, what is likely to happen? There are no reports of measles in Kentucky at the moment (yes, I asked). Most likely and the best case scenario, the OP's daughter has some other viral rash and will not have measles at all. She'll recover, mum and friends will retain their "measles are not a big deal if you just do the right thing" (oatmeal/baking soda baths, it appears) smugness.

Hopefully, mum will sober up and call the practise with her suspicion before going there. There is a reason that there are elaborate regulations to prevent measles transmission in a medical setting.

If this turns out to be measles and mum did indeed take her daughter to a doctor's practise this morning, I predict we are going to see more cases, like for example here, here and here. The worst case scenario is that an infant will be infected in the waiting room (more likely in practices tolerant of non-vaccinating families), and ultimately dies, like we have previously described.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Retraction of Sorts

On 22 March 2012, Dr. Bob Sears wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled, "California Bill AB2109 Threatens Vaccine Freedom of Choice".  If Dr. Bob isn't bad enough at science and medicine, he now tries his hand in a spectacular display of ineptness at the topics of public health policy and politics.  However, this post isn't about Dr. Bob's trifling about in another area where he has no expertise particularly since others have gone into depth about CA Bill AB2109.  It is about the exchange that took place in the comments section of the Huffington Post piece between Dr. Bob and others that aren't me nor Catherina.  It involves the blogpost I wrote last year, 2008: Measles in Dr. Bob Sears' Waiting Room and Seth Mnookin's report that the index case in that outbreak was, in fact Dr. Bob's patient:
I went on to write about how Sears’s downplaying of vaccine-preventable diseases was particularly ironic given what occurred in San Diego in 2008, when “a seven-year-old boy who was later revealed to be one of Sears’s patients returned from a family vacation in Switzerland with the measles.” Eventually, 11 other children were infected and dozens more were quarantined (some for up to three weeks); it ended up being the largest outbreak in California in almost two decades and cost well over $100,000 to contain.
Sears’s involvement with patient zero was not some sort of secret: It was also reported in a December 19, 2008 episode of This American Life, in the middle of an interview with Sears himself. (You can hear that part of the broadcast—”That’s Dr. Bob Sears. … Dr. Bob, as people call him, is also the doctor for the non-vaccinating family that went to Switzerland”—here. For people interested in the whole show, Sears comes in just before the the 34-minute mark.) It was also reported in Sears’s hometown newspaper, The Orange County Register
Several commenters on The Huffington Post asked Dr. Bob about his involvement with that outbreak and if the index case was in his waiting room. But he dodged:
Of course I remember the show, and her comment. BUT, she wasn't accusing me of being the pediatrician that the measles patient went to see when he had measles and sat in his waiting room. She simply stated that that child was my patient (which is correct, but they didn't come to see me during the measles illness). She was baiting me, and suggesting that the fact that that family had decided against the MMR vaccine long before they ever became my patients was MY fault. I wasn't about to give her the satisfaction of acknowleding her comment.

What I was referring to by the statement "I had no idea" was that I never knew anyone, much less a supposedly respected reporter, was spreading the FALSE rumors that I was the pediatrician involved in the outbreak. I have simply been the family's pediatrican over the years, but I practice far away from them, so they went to a local ped for THIS problem. Anyone who has written or suggested otherwise printing false information.

He can't keep his pronouns straight and whether there was one or more children that Dr. Brown was referring to.  Here is her comment from the Dr. Oz Show:
"...And as an example, there was a 2008 measles outbreak in San Diego where an unvaccinated child developed measles, was in the doctor's waiting room where other unvaccinated children then got measles.  In fact one of those children was too young to be vaccinated and contracted measles and ended up in the hospital.  And I think those were actually Dr. Bob's patients."
The implication being that the index case and others infected were all Dr. Bob's patients and he acknowledged that they were.  It would also be a hell of a coincidence that these were Dr. Bob's patients but were all in another paediatricians office at the time of transmission.  This is what led me to post the accusation that the children were in his waiting room.  He knew of the blogpost and had numerous opportunities to address the claim as false but he didn't.  However, in the interest of fairness I will post what he has recently stated:
Dr. Bob has now stated outright that the index case was not in his waiting room but that is not the end of it.  He claims that he doesn't know who Seth Mnookin is nor has he have any idea what he could have written.  Not only that but also claims that he had no idea that anyone thought the index case was in his waiting room which is absolutely false since I know that some of his followers have brought this to his attention.  As per Seth Mnookin, he and Dr. Bob had several exchanges in preparation for Mnookin's book, The Panic Virus.  Here is what Mr. Mnookin declared:
When I explained that I was not actually interested in advertising on Sears’s website but wanted to interview him, I was assured that Sears would be in touch in short order. After not hearing back for two more weeks, I emailed again; still, nothing. Finally, on July 14, Sears wrote to me, claiming that he’d emailed me previously but never heard back. (Perhaps he’d been emailing Seth Minooken.) We arranged a time to speak, but he didn’t answer his phone. We arranged a second time to talk, and finally, on July 21, 2009, we conducted our first interview; over the coming months, we spoke one more time and had several email exchanges.
Finally, it seems worth noting that during the entire time I was working on The Panic Virus, never once did a representative from a pharmaceutical company or a government official even obliquely discuss any type of financial arrangement. In fact, there were only two people who did: One of Sears’s office minions and the man Sears is embracing in the picture below: Andrew Wakefield.
That said, Liz Ditz pointed me to a local article that ran regarding the 2008 measles index case along with her report of it.
The index case, the 7 year old traveler, attends a "progressive" charter school in San Diego, which serves grades k-7 and has an enrollment of 358.   At the beginning of the outbreak, nearly 10% of the student body were unvaccinated and were quarantined at home.  Voice of San Diego reported on February 4:
34 unimmunized students at San Diego Cooperative Charter School (SDCC) are stuck at home, said principal Wendy Ranck-Buhr. The students can't come to school until Feb. 21, unless they get immunized against the illness.
By February 12, the 34 had dropped to 17, according to a bulletin from SDCC.
UPI reported that up to 50 children are quarantined, including the Baldwin Academy students, the SDCC students, and unvaccinated students at the Murray Callan Swim School (which has classes for infants as young as three months).
The current measles outbreak in San Diego was sparked by an unvaccinated 7 year old child who acquired the disease in Switzerland, and so far has infected two infants too young to be vaccinated.  The infants both acquired the highly-contagious disease by being at the Children's Clinic in La Jolla at the same time as the virus-shedding 7-year-old.
Dr. Bob is not directly responsible for the 2008 measles outbreak that I had previously reported.