Friday, August 31, 2012

H1N1 Influenza Deaths in Children with Neurological Disorders and Anti-Vaxx Autism Groups Don't Care

This past Wednesday, 29 August 2012 a CDC press release, Children with Neurological Disorders at High Risk of Death from Flu was issued.  LeftBrain/RightBrain was the first I could see who relayed this information on 29 August 2012.  In the past couple of days, Disability Scoop, History of VaccinesAutism Science Foundation and a plethora of news outlets have reported this.  The original study can be found in the most recent edition of Pediatrics.
Of the 336 children (defined as people younger than 18 years) with information available on underlying medical conditions who were reported to have died from 2009 H1N1 flu-associated causes, 227 had one or more underlying health conditions. One hundred forty-six children (64 percent) had a neurologic disorder such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, or epilepsy. Of the children with neurologic disorders for whom information on vaccination status was available, only 21 (23 percent) had received the seasonal influenza vaccine and 2 (3 percent) were fully vaccinated for 2009 H1N1.
“We’ve known for some time that certain neurologic conditions can put children at high risk for serious complications from influenza,” said Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of the surveillance and outbreak response team in CDC’s Influenza Division. “However, the high percentage of pediatric deaths associated with neurologic disorders that occurred during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic was a somber reminder of the harm that flu can cause to children with neurologic and neurodevelopmental disorders.”
Remarkably absent from reporting this are the "usual suspects" of anti-vaccine and autism crankery.  The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has absolutely nothing mentioned about this finding.  This is an organisation that prides itself on "informed consent":
The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is dedicated to the prevention of vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and to defending the informed consent ethic in medicine.

As an independent clearinghouse for information on diseases and vaccines, NVIC does not advocate for or against the use of vaccines. We support the availability of all preventive health care options, including vaccines, and the right of consumers to make educated, voluntary health care choices.
Emphasis added.  Yet not a single word about this study for parents of high risk children, in particular to make an informed choice.

Let's take a look at Dr. Joseph Mercola's website, the "alternative practitioner" who actively railed against the potential dangers of H1N1 influenza vaccination and vocally dissuaded his readers from getting the vaccine for themselves and their children no matter what.  Nope, not a word there either about this study.

Surely Dr. Bob Sears another proponent of "informed consent" for vaccines has something about this study.  He is after all a paediatrician and DAN! doctor who takes care of medically-fragile children.  One would think that this is very important information to share with his readers and patients.  Sixty-four percent of the H1N1-related deaths in 2009 were among children with cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, or epilepsy and only 3% were fully vaccinated for H1N1.  No, complete silence there too.  Except of course to register his outrage over California's AB2109 bill which requires informed consent before opting out of vaccines.  At least he is consistently against informed consent by not providing his own patients with any.  Dr. Sears also shares his extraordinary knowledge of H1N1 vaccines, vaccine testing and his ability to sling conspiracy theories around with the best of them. 

Another obvious place to look would be Dr. Jay Gordon's website since he is so terribly concerned with vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.   I would imagine that Dr. Jay also has medically-fragile children in his practice and would want their parents to know about how such underlying conditions can be risk factors for things like complications from flu.  No, nothing there either but he is certainly not shy about promoting his interview with Anderson Cooper and letting us know what a particular colour of poop means. Dr. Jay is also against AB2109.  Dr. Jay also had some truly brilliant insights regarding H1N1 pathology, vaccination and epidemiology.

This CDC press release was embargoed which essentially means that their media contact will pre-release it to certain parties in order for them to prepare a story for when the story is released.  It is considered really bad manners to break an embargo.  Needless to say, many anti-vaccine/autism groups have really bad manners and think nothing of breaking embargoes when it suits them.  One of the most egregious anti-vaccine/autism sites, Age of Autism not only minded the embargo but seems to have extended it by not mentioning a word of it.  The only "stories" there were the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth over genetics studies, conspiracy theories and how the IACC won't recommend study directives for vaccinesdidit.

This is clearly inconvenient information for those who take every opportunity to denigrate vaccines, lie about the true risks of vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines or are just too dumb to disseminate factual information regarding vaccines and the diseases they can prevent.  The true believers will never be swayed and completely miss the point that there are medically-fragile children who are at a greater risk for disease complications and intentionally withholding this information by so-called autism and vaccine-safety organisations and healthcare practitioners is tantamount to lying.

Addendum 9.1.12:  Commenter lilady linked to Dr. Jay Gordon's views on H1N1 vaccines and disease shortly after H1N1 began circulating.  I added that and Dr. Bob Sears' views as well.  Thank you lilady; I now feel stupid for reading those.

In Other News: the Pope is Still Catholic

a quick update on yesterday's post:

Measles Cases Confirmed in Northwest Arkansas 
Little Rock -- The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has confirmed that there are laboratory results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirming that at least two of the original three suspected cases of measles in Gentry are positive. 
According to Gary Wheeler, MD, branch director of the Infectious Disease Branch at ADH, these results were expected, based on the first medical examinations. 
“The message is very clear -- immunizations are important for protection of the individual. They are also important protection for the community,” Wheeler said.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Just a short measles miscellaneous of the day. I often come across the notion that it is "immigrants" that re-import vaccine-preventable infectious diseases to the US and that therefore, areas with a high number of immigrants have the highest risk of such diseases. Doctors apparently (achtung: hear say) also like to use that claim to encourage reluctant parents to vaccinate. Two notices appeared on my google feed a couple of days ago:

An 18-month-old girl and one-year-old boy died of measles pneumonitis in Darpa Khel area of tehsil Miranshah, said Agency Headquarters Hospital Miranshah MS Dr Muhammad Sadiq, adding that 25 more people are admitted at the hospital.
The outbreak of measles started in April across the Agency. Sadiq said that in the past week many patients have come from Darpa Khel and Madakhel because the localities have major sanitation problems. “We started vaccinating children but the disease resurfaced after a gap of one month,” he said, adding that most of the vaccines provided by the government have expired because of high temperatures and prolonged power outages.
The pediatrician said that most of the patients at the hospital were shifted from Khost, Afghanistan. “The Pakistani government could not vaccinate children from Afghanistan and when the epidemic broke there, patients came to Pakistan for treatment, infecting children here.”
These children are not going anywhere. They will get sick and many will die, right where they are, stuck in the middle of nowhere between Pakistan and Afghanistan (or an equally remote place). They do not have the money to make it to the US. So you guys are safe, right? Wrong: the below are the typical import situations:

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AP) - The Arkansas Health Department says three siblings have been diagnosed with suspected measles and unvaccinated students at a northwest Arkansas boarding school where two of them are students have been sent home.
The agency said Tuesday that one of the siblings had recently traveled to Romania, Italy, and Switzerland. The youth's two siblings became ill while attending Ozark Adventist Academy near Gentry. (my bold)

VoilĂ  - import of measles into the US is essentially a (white) upper middle class problem. Unvaccinated children, exempt from vaccines at their posh fee paying schools, travel to European countries with very high measles incidence (Switzerland has been battling with measles for years, Romania has been the source for US imports before, too), bring measles back to the US and spread it to their siblings and peers (equally unvaccinated). Interestingly, an analysis of vaccine exemptions in Arkansas has just been published, reporting that since the introduction of the possibility of a "philosophical exemption" from immunization requirements in 2003, exemption rates have increased by 23% per year. There has been a drop in medical exemptions at the same time, calling into question the validity of these before the law was changed, however, the overall increase is still striking:

 Even more striking is the authors' prediction (as published in June 2012):
The increases in philosophic exemptions in Arkansas raise concerns that outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases may occur in the future.
Outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in the United States are very much a "first world", leisure travel-associated problem and therefore, entirely preventable. Check your vaccination status before you travel abroad!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

West Virginia Battling Anti-Vaxxers Again

A recent lawsuit was initiated by six West Virginia families against the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  The lawsuit contends:
A half-dozen families are suing the state Department of Health and Human Resources because they say the department is illegally requiring school children to receive certain vaccines.

If successful, the lawsuit could block vaccination requirements for middle and high school students that are in effect this fall for the first time.

The lawsuit was filed late last week with the state Supreme Court. The suit accuses DHHR of improperly adding vaccines to a list of state-mandated vaccines for public school students.
Lane said the lawsuit is not about immunizations in general, but instead about DHHR overstepping its authority. He said DHHR is requiring the vaccine in a rule but that DHHR can't require vaccines without legislative approval.

"I guess, on their own initiative, the agency has attempted to bypass the Legislature and, in our view, illegally add these other compulsory immunization requirements," Lane said. "And the rest of that is if parents do not comply with these additional requirements - the five additional - then their child cannot go to school in West Virginia."
It's about the vaccines; at least be honest about that.  Previously, the West Virginia DHHS required the recommended series of IPV (inactivated polio virus vaccine), DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Hepatitis B and Varicella.  West Virginia does not allow for religious nor philosophical vaccine exemptions. The DHHS has added:
A recent rule change requires incoming seventh graders in the state to show proof they received one dose of meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccines starting in the 2012-2013 school year. Incoming high school seniors must prove they received booster doses after the age of 16. Without vaccination proof from before or shortly after the beginning of the school year, students cannot attend school, Associated Press reports.
That is a booster of Tdap or TD if the child is pertussis exempt for medical reasons and a meningitis (MPSV4 or MCV4) vaccine series of two.  I don't see how Mr. Lane claims it is five additional requirements.

Mr. Lane also refers to a State Code that requires the DHHS to obtain legislative approval for changes in school vaccine requirements.  I cannot find any State Code which specifies this but I am also not a lawyer.  I did find this document which seems to contradict Mr. Lane's claim that the DHHS must acquire State Legislative approval first:
Commissioner’s Authority to Change Immunization Requirements for New School
The Commissioner may, by Order filed with the Secretary of State, modify, add or delete vaccines to be required for new school enterers. The Commissioner’s Orders shall be made after consultation with the State Health Officer and shall be consistent with the immunization schedules referenced in section 3 of this rule. The Commissioner’s Orders shall not exceed those recommendations.
In any event, it will be interesting to see what the ruling(s) on this suit will be.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dr Sears is spot on (Bill Sears that is)

not that many of his page's followers are happy:

Listen to daddy, Bob, he knows what he is talking about here!

Remind me - what does that other "M" stand for?

MMR - Mumps, Measles, Rubella

Not enough children in the UK, especially those at middle/high school age, have full (i.e. 2x) MMR coverage, which has led to a slow and sustained measles outbreak across the UK (Just the Vax passim here and here). Now the MMR protects against three diseases, measles of course, but also mumps and rubella. The HPA North East has issued a health warning, since they have seen a 400% increase in mumps cases in April to June 2012 (133) over 32 in the same period of 2011. Almost half of these cases are in 15 to 24 year olds. While those may be un/under-vaccinated because of the MMR manufactuversy, a new "generation" of kids is unvaccinated against mumps because clinics offering single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines have been unable to source the mumps from anywhere for the last couple of years now.
Worse yet, rubella cases have reached 57 in the first 6 months of the year, exceeding annual rubella case counts of the past 9 years. This is a typical pattern, where measles outbreaks happen, mumps and rubella are also occurring - a sure sign that 2xMMR prevents all three - go get your child (or yourself) caught up, if must be with MMR, even if mumps is the only shot they are missing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

U.S. West Nile Virus

The U.S. is experiencing record numbers of West Nile Virus (WNV) this year.
So far, 38 states have reported human cases, but the epicenter is Texas, which has reported half of the WNV infections. The CDC said so far it has received reports of 1,118 cases, including 629 people with the neuroinvasive form of the disease. Nationally, 41 deaths have been reported.
West Nile virus has no vaccine and no cure and can cause permanent neurological sequelae or death in about 1 in 150 people infected. About 80% of those infected do not experience any symptoms but 20% will have moderate symptoms that mimic the flu and can last from days to weeks even in healthy people.

Forty-seven states have detected West Nile Virus in either humans, birds or mosquitoes.  You can navigate the maps to view the status of your area.  It is imperative that people follow the guidelines for preventing WNV.  In areas where standing water cannot be removed such as rainbarrels and ornamental ponds, use mosquito dunks to control larvae (this is not an endorsement of a specific product but rather an example).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Duplicity of Mary Holland

Mary Holland of the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy (EBCALA) recently posted A Critical Review of the Performance of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC).   Mary Holland's completely fallacious and misleading diatribe is rivalled only by her and her "colleagues" embarrassing display at the recent IACC meetingMary Holland is anti-vaccine to the core and no amount of her unctuous rhetoric can disguise that fact.

Just the Vax is pleased to have a guest blogger, Robertson deconstruct Mary Holland's deceitful and self-serving castigation of the agency that has been tasked to recommend research avenues that would best serve all autists simply because vaccines explicitly do not predominate the IACC's recommendations.

Ms. Holland's statements from her "performance review" are in blockquotes and colour-coded headings also follow her "performance review".  Robertson's responses are in standard text.  Ms. Holland begins with:
In 2006, Congress passed federal legislation that allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to address the autism epidemic. There was little doubt our nation was facing a crisis of unparalleled proportion or that we urgently needed to address it. Legislators on both sides of the aisle collaborated and eventually united to pass the Combating Autism Act (CAA) to do so.
The critique starts out with a misrepresentation of the CAA (Public Law 109–416).  No where in the text of the Act does it mention the word "epidemic". Sure, it mentions the need for epidemiological studies, but legislators recognized that there is a great need for research into autism, without invoking an "epidemic" to justify it.  They also knew that there wasn't evidence to support the idea that there is an epidemic.
Part of the legislation called for the creation of a panel of experts to develop a strategic plan for autism research. This panel was to consist of medical experts, philanthropists, activists, and parents nominated by their peers and selected for their expertise, leadership, integrity, and commitment. The panel was to be known as the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and a variety of views about the causation and possible treatments for autism were to be represented. Dr. Tom Insel of the National Institute of Health, under the direction of the Department of Health and Human Services, was appointed to lead it.
Public Law 109-416 calls for the reformation of the IACC.  The IACC was in existence since 2001.  The director of NIMH was the chair from the beginning, and Tom Insel took over with the third meeting, when he became NIMH director.  Public Law 109-416 doesn't mention a variety of views about causation and treatments.  Members are drawn from both the government and the public sector. The section on public members states:
"(2) ADDITIONAL MEMBERS.—Not fewer than 6 members of the Committee, or 1/3 of the total membership of the Committee, whichever is greater, shall be composed of non-Federal public members to be appointed by the Secretary, of which— 
‘‘(A) at least one such member shall be an individual with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder; 
‘‘(B) at least one such member shall be a parent or legal guardian of an individual with an autism spectrum disorder; and 
‘‘(C) at least one such member shall be a representative of leading research, advocacy, and service organizations for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
Note that the Law calls for public members to represent, in order, autists, parents and, last, at least one member as a representative of an organization.  The default is that a member is not a member of an organization.  Complaints that a member needs to represent an organization are red herrings.

If one wishes for the committee to represent all views of causation, consider this: a study by the MIND Institute presented at IMFAR reported that 20% of parents believe that vaccines cause autism.  The public members of  IACC do represent this diversity, with the majority of parents not ascribing to this failed notion of a vaccine epidemic.
At the convening of the first IACC meeting, the rate of autism in the United States was widely accepted as 1 in 166 and that rate was considered an alarming increase over what had previously been considered a rare condition. Today, that rate has skyrocketed to 1 in 88 among children born in 2000. Despite this incredible increase over a short six-year period, and despite the hundreds of millions of dollars given to the IACC through the Combating Autism Act to address it, the autism epidemic has proven to be substantially more serious than anyone imagined when the legislation was first passed. More troubling, it shows no signs of abatement. And nothing that has come out of the spending authorized in the Combating Autism Act offers even a remote hope for halting the increase.
First, one must note that this misrepresents the CDC autism prevalence estimates. They are not a declaration of the true, secular prevalence of autism. They are estimates based on the best efforts of a hard working team doing record reviews.

The increase in autism prevalence represents children born before even the first IACC was formed in 2001. Much before the IACC as formed by the CAA. The "epidemic" has been shown to be largely due to quantifiable social factors, through research directly supported by an NIH Director's Pioneer Award. There is no reason to expect that the factors he identified and quantified are the only social factors at play in the rise of autism prevalence. In other words, there may be, and almost certainly are, more social factors which are behind the increase. Such research as Bearman's is a direct challenge to the notion of the "epidemic" as defined by Mary Holland, and it is disturbing (but expected) that she ignores these important results.
Despite Congress’s original intention, few can argue that the IACC thus far has been effective. Worse, significant evidence exists to demonstrate that this did not have to be so. From the controversial appointment or retention of committee representatives, to the troublesome history of committee members themselves, to the lack of accountability for the few advances made in autism research, to the questionable direction of the Strategic Plan, it is fair to state that the IACC is not living up to Congress’ and the public’s expectations.
Holland implies she knows what Congress's "original intention" is. She clearly thinks that this intention was to prove that the rise in prevalence is an epidemic caused by vaccines. There is no language of vaccines in the language of Public Law 109-416. This is not an oversight. Congress was well aware of the debate and chose to leave this language out of the Law.

Appointment of committee representatives who subscribe to the same views as the majority of the scientific community, and of the majority of parents, is hardly "controversial". Positions held by Mary Holland, untenable positions of vaccines inducing an epidemic, those are controversial.

The phrase "Troublesome history of committee members themselves" is nothing short of a thinly veiled personal attack on the members.
Further, substantial concern exists that the situation is only getting worse. With a less representative panel than ever slated to begin working this July, we worry if any serious advancement for people with autism will be made now or in the near future. We urge the taxpayers of the United States and the leadership of our nation, along with the committee members themselves (both past and present), to critically examine their approach to the autism epidemic so that we may adequately and immediately address these shortcomings.
It has not been established that this is a "less representative" panel. Much to the contrary, the science has progressed away from the idea of a "vaccine epidemic" and the public in general and the autism community in specific has moved away from this failed notion.
Critique of the Newly Appointed IACC Members
At this point Holland moves into attacking those on the committee who do not share her minority viewpoint.
A new panel of IACC appointees will begin their service on July 10, 2012. Per the CAA, committee members must first be nominated and then selected from a pool of candidates to serve. A variety of philosophies about autism causation, prevalence, and treatment are supposed to be represented.
A variety of philosophies is represented on the IACC. The IACC even includes people who still adhere to the failed notion of mercury causing an autism epidemic.
Unfortunately, the new panel appears to be anything but representative. Of the 11 appointed panel members, there is only one who represents the view of tens of thousands of parents that autism is a medical condition that can and should be prevented and treated. Lyn Redwood, RN, represents those parents and served on the previous committee as well. She is also the mother of a fully recovered child, and the only person representing families who has been a consistent advocate for environmental research funding, including independent vaccine safety science.
Ms. Redwood is the one parent of a high functioning child serving. Parents of children with greater challenges are also represented. With roughly a half million (estimated) child autists in the U.S., representing "tens of thousands" of parents is representing a minority. Minorities should be represented, but should not dominate the process.
These highly qualified candidates that share similarly representative perspectives, however, were not appointed.
As are many, many, other highly qualified candidates.
Instead of these experienced representatives who are widely admired in the autism parent community, an ideologically biased panel of representatives was selected for the current IACC. In fact, not only are the positions and qualifications of the new appointees in stark contrast to those mentioned above, there is widespread speculation within the autism community that they were selected for their hostility to investigation of environmental causes of autism, including vaccines.
Why should the views of autism parent community--or more specifically the minority fraction that Holland represents--be the standard by which the committee is formed? How does ascribing to the position supported by science, as the majority of those appointed to the IACC do, become "ideologically biased"? How does a committee which represents the fact that the vaccine-causation idea is a minority viewpoint be defined as "ideologically biased"? The answer is clear: the IACC is not the ideologically biased group in this discussion. It is worth being reminded that the text of the Law does not call for representation of the vaccine-causation viewpoint. In fact, the requirement for public members calls for autist representation and then a parent. Last is a member of a "leading" autism organization. Apparently, being an autist or the parent of an autist is not a qualification for being a representative on the IACC in Holland's view?
For example, one newly appointed member, Matt Carey, father of an affected child, is best known in the autism community by a pseudonym he uses on a UK blog. He represents no national organization and actively opposes all vaccine safety research while he attacks parents who advocate for it. Under his pseudonym, Carey is best known as an ardent defender of Dr. Paul Offit, the wealthy developer of Merck’s rotavirus vaccine.
What does it matter how Matt Carey is "best known" to Holland's minority community? Again, the CAA does not require members to represent an organization.  Much to the contrary. What matter is there that Carey blogged under a pseudonym especially given that his identity is know well known. Carey's blog has multiple discussions of vaccine safety studies but apparently studies which show vaccines to not cause autism are not real vaccine safety studies to Holland. Ironically, Holland attacks Carey while claiming without any evidence that Carey attacks others.
Dr. Jose Cordero has served at the CDC for 27 years, oversaw the early days of the autism epidemic, and did nothing but mount a “learn the signs” campaign to address it. Cordero is also on record for pressuring the journal Pediatrics to publish a deeply flawed vaccine safety study in Denmark. Worse, he allocated millions of taxpayer dollars to Danish research Dr. Poul Thorsen, who was indicted by Department of Justice for 13 counts of wire fraud and 9 counts of money laundering of CDC money allocated to autism research. Dr. Cordero has never been held accountable for his failure to sound the alarm on the autism epidemic during his tenure at the CDC.
As a representative from Puerto Rico, Jose Cordero represents the interests of under represented populations. His service to the nation should be applauded, but such is her bias against the CDC that Holland sees this as a deficit. She attempts an ad hominem attack on Dr. Cordero, trying to link him to the manager of a research group whose financial activities came under question years after Dr. Cordero's tenure at the CDC. The work performed by researchers in Dr. Thorsen's team has been replicated by other groups and has not been called into question by others outside groups like those represented by Holland.
James Ball represents an autism organization representing few families.
Holland herself represents an autism organization representing few families, unless EBCALA has a much larger membership than is publicly presented. An In other words, this is a red herring.
Dennis Choi is on the staff of the Simons Foundation, a research organization that is solely committed to a genetic causation model of autism; Choi was formerly an employee of the pharmaceutical giant Merck, one of the world’s top-three vaccine manufacturers. There is also concern about his level of commitment to serving on the IACC given a track record of poor attendance.
Dennis Choi represents an organization which is the largest private supporter of autism in the world. The fact that Simons is willing to work with the IACC and share information should be applauded.
Alison Singer is the mother of an affected child and a previous representative of Autism Speaks on IACC. She resigned from Autism Speaks regarding differences of opinion about vaccine research but was allowed to keep her IACC seat. She now serves as President of the Autism Science Foundation, an organization she started that is funded at least in part by vaccine makers.
Seats on the IACC are given to individuals, not to organizations. As an attorney, Holland should be well aware of this as the language of the Act is quite clear. The ASF does not disclose donors publicly, and makes no mention of vaccine manufacturers offering support. More to the point, the ASF funds quality research. Holland is welcome to discuss what parts of that research program she finds objectionable.
Idil Abdull is a mother of an affected child, represents no national organizations, and has promoted vaccination in concert with local public health officials.
Again, when did being the parent of an autist become a drawback to service on the IACC? Why is holding the widely accepted view that vaccination is an effective public health measure a deficit? These are not deficits to the majority of Americans, or even the majority of the autism community.
Scott Robertson and John Elder Robison are both high functioning adults with Asperger’s, representing only the top 5% of people affected by autism. Robison is the author of a well-received memoir, but did not graduate from high school (in contrast to Crosby who is studying for a graduate degree in Public Health). Noah Britton is an additional high functioning Asperger’s representative; his most notable activity is leading a comedy troupe called “Asperger’s are Us” that makes light of the suffering of affected individuals and families. While we support including self-advocates, the dichotomy of function level within the community means that the majority of individuals, who are more severely affected, are underrepresented on the committee.
This is a group of red herrings. The Law requires that there be autist representation. By definition, autist public representatives will be "high functioning" to the point that their disability does not restrict them from participation. This represents the divisive attitude that Holland has towards adults and those who have challenges, but challenges of a different nature than those autists who also have intellectual disability.
Dr. Anshu Batra is the mother of two boys on the autism spectrum. Her main role in the autism community appears to be that of a public advocate for the American Academy of Pediatrics in their fight against vaccine safety research. Dr. Batra represents no national autism organization. She has written no books, conducted no research on autism, and it is unclear whether her medical practice specializes in any kind of autism treatment.
Dr. Batra's role in the autism community is providing medical services to autists and their families. This is admirable, so Holland ignores it. Again, the complaint about a national autism organization is a red herring.
Dr. David Mandell is a psychiatrist and researcher who also represents the Autism Science Foundation, despite its small size. His apparent goal is to develop new interventions for autism treatment, primarily using pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Mandell does not represent the Autism Science Foundation, as is made clear in the HHS announcement of new members ( But, this is a red herring as an organization could have multiple members. Holland didn't spend much effort to research what his goal is, but, rather, focuses on her own misconceptions.
Astonishingly, even though significant evidence exists to show autism is an environmentally caused disease, no environmental scientist has been appointed. This seems not only illogical, but also highly irresponsible. It is hard to interpret the composition of the new IACC as anything but a stinging rebuke to those who believe autism is a treatable, medical condition with underlying environmental causes and who proposed qualified candidates to represent that view. It is even harder to believe any real progress will be made under the direction of the new committee members on the environmental triggers of autism.
There is a strong interest in environmental research, just not the small corner that Holland is focused upon (vaccines). It is astonishing that Holland has not accepted the mountain of evidence that her own, very narrow focus, has little to no support in the science. The idea of vaccines causing an autism epidemic was never well supported and the primary hypotheses have been disproved.
The Troublesome History of Panel Members
Another section of personal attacks.
Throughout the IACC’s existence there have been a number of incidents that give many stakeholders great pause. These incidents reflect not only a lack of urgency and responsibility on behalf of many of those serving on the panel, but in some cases, a blatant lack of professionalism and compassion. They are truly troubling.
Holland, and others, appears to define "sense of urgency" as "accepting the failed notion that vaccines cause autism". As such we are left with the choice: a committee that meets her definition of working with a sense of urgency or a committee which adheres to evidence and science and is working diligently to making life better for autists and their families.
Additionally, important conflicts of interest that legitimately raise concerns over the independence of the panel have gone unaddressed. For example, it is no secret that among parents vaccines are widely considered to play a significant role in the development of autism. Although controversial and widely dismissed by sophisticated public relations campaigns, far more science supports vaccines as a causal factor in autism than mainstream press coverage suggests. Most notably, our federal government has been quietly rewarding compensation for autism in association with vaccine injury for decades, lending support to the association that parents have recognized for years. A Pace Environmental Law Review article published in 2011 documented these previously hidden cases of autism and vaccine injury in great detail.
Again, the MIND Institute's study points to the majority of parents having moved on from the vaccine causation hypothesis. Holland, as one of the authors of the PACE study, has ironically made a minor ethical lapse in failing to point out that she has a conflict of interest in promoting her own, flawed, research. By failing to inform the public of her own role, she appears to be less biased about the results than she is.
Despite this association between vaccine injury and autism, Dr. Tom Insel continues to head the IACC, even though he has a brother who became wealthy as the developer of a mercury-containing vaccine. Dr. Insel appeared at a National Autism Association conference in Atlanta, Georgia in 2007 and suggested that one day there was hope to create a vaccine to prevent autism. The insensitivity of this comment to the audience he was addressing cannot be overstated.
"Despite this association" is a non sequitor. Mentioning her own PACE study does not create an association. Dr. Insel's brother helped to reduce infectious disease through an invention made decades before the first IACC was formed. Whatever patent has long since expired and the opportunity for financial gain is gone. Neither Dr. Tom Insel nor his brother stand to profit in any way from whatever outcome there may be from research into the autism-vaccine link.

It is heavily ironic that a group purporting to support prevention research should be so critical of remarks by Dr. Insel about the possibility that a preventative method may some day exist. It also speaks to the question of whether these groups are "pro vaccine safety" or "anti vaccine" that the mere mention of a vaccine to prevent autism would be considered insulting.
Dr. Insel’s demonstrated his unwillingness to adequately investigate vaccine safety when he rescinded a committee vote in favor of vaccine research. In December 2008, the IACC had approved two studies to address vaccine safety and autism. In a dramatic turn of events, Dr. Insel called for a re-vote on a previously voted-on and approved element of the Strategic Plan of the Combating Autism Act. The re-vote to reverse this previous decision was a surprise to the public members of IACC and was not listed on the meeting’s agenda.
Dr. Insel did not rescind the committee's vote. He called for a new vote and the committee rescinded their vote. That's what a re-vote means. Vaccines are not mentioned in the Combating Autism Act. Also, there is no "strategic plan of the combating autism act". The strategic plan is a product of the IACC.

Consider the history of the re-vote. It is known that one public member was in communication with her organization the day before discussing how to vote in the re-count. How is this a "surprise"?
Other incidents also bring Dr. Insel’s fitness to serve into question. For example, in April 2007, he refused to ride in an elevator with a mother and her affected child on their way to hearings about autism. He also had to publicly apologize to IACC member Lyn Redwood for a note found on the floor during an IACC meeting that was written by panel member Dr. Story Landis. In it, Landis questioned the motives of parents such as Redwood who were seeking vaccine research, while also suggesting that the most severe cases of vaccine injury should be investigated.
How, exactly, does apologizing on behalf of another member bring his fitness to serve into question? This is simply an attempted ad hominem attack on Dr. Insel.
The autism rate has doubled on Dr. Insel’s watch. None of the research that IACC has funded under his direction has led to significant advances in understanding autism causation. No funding has significantly improved the lives of those with autism. As hundreds of thousands of affected individuals now reach adulthood, IACC has done virtually nothing to prepare the country for this reality. The most promising area of research, environmental causation, has been studiously avoided and is likely to be avoided going forward under his stewardship. This failure of leadership, together with conflicts of interest, procedural lapses, and the decision to appoint an unrepresentative body of new committee members, speak to Dr. Insel’s unfitness to continue as Chair. IACC needs new leadership and new members if it is to succeed in its mission.
Again, the estimated autism rate for children born before the IACC was formed, has increased. Holland seems to wish for research to allow for the prevention of autism through time travel.

Ironically, the primary evidence that Holland would use to support the idea that autism is largely environmental was funded under Dr. Insel's watch: the California Autism Twin Study. She wants to use research funded under his stewardship to attack him for not funding research valuable to her community.

The IACC's Strategic Plan does call for a high level of environmental risk factor research. How well the plan is put into action is not within the control of the IACC.

And here is where Holland is propagating yet another misconception: the IACC is an advisory committee. It does not fund research. It has no research budget. The strategic plan is set forth to advise government and private entities in the direction of research. The IACC can not require researchers to submit proposals, nor can it fund proposals which are not competitive.
Concerns with the Strategic Plan
In addition to the unbalanced philosophical composition of the panel members, coupled with the history of troublesome behavior and conflicts of interest, there is also great concern that the money dedicated towards addressing autism research and treatment is not being allocated responsibly or effectively. For example:
Once again, it is worth noting that Holland's viewpoints on vaccines, both as a possible risk factor and as the proposed primary focus of the IACC is a minority viewpoint. It is interesting that one very stretched attempt at declaring a member has a conflict of interest is inflated now into a "history" of "conflicts of interest".
  • The panel is excessively focused on early intervention. There is very little money allocated towards helping children older than age of 3. 
  • There is little focus on the services needed among an aging population of affected people, such as living assistance, job placement, and housing.
In this instance Holland is faced with "You get what you ask for". By focusing discussion on causation and recovery, she and her colleagues have created the atmosphere which has focused on the young. She and others have actively denied the existance of, much less advocated for support for, the autist adult population. Even in this critique, the only mention of adults focuses on the youth of today becoming adults. Not the adults of today. This is incredibly poor planning on the part of her generation of advocates.
  • There is significant over-investment in genetic and genomic research, especially since autism is an environmentally caused disorder. None of this research has produced findings of diagnostic or therapeutic value. Indeed, despite claims that autism is highly heritable, no inherited gene of major effect has ever been found. Despite claims of progress in genes of minor effect and gene mutations, no consistently replicable findings have been produced.
The IACC has called for more investment in environmental risk factor research. Holland has not been honest with her "tens of thousands" of parents by hiding this fact.

Autism is more than claimed to be "highly heritable". It is highly heritable. It may not be as heritable as previously estimated, but it is still highly heritable. All genetics is not heritable, as evidenced by Down Syndrome.
  • There has been no accountability on behalf of the IACC panel for a lack of progress in either addressing or stopping the autism epidemic. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on autism research, not a single new case of autism was prevented.
There is certainly accountability for public members who are stakeholders. To imply otherwise is dishonest and insulting. The future for themselves (autists) and their children (parents) will be partially defined by what they do. Holland's own experience shows this. She appears to be waking up to the fact that there is little support for adult autists. She and so many "advocates" have denied the existence of adult autists to the point that little work has been focused on them.

It is unfortunate that so much time, money and effort was spent chasing MMR and thimerosal as possible risk factors. Rather than face another 10 years without progress, it is time we moved on.

"not a single new case of autism was prevented". The IACC can't take responsibility for the Rubella vaccine, but it has been preventing autism for decades. Holland appears to have an aversion to acknowledging any benefit to vaccines, finding it insulting that a vaccine could have a benefit to the autism community.
  • Significant research gaps, such as the specific role of the environment in the causation of ASD, are not being addressed. A recent analysis by The Coalition for SafeMinds showed that, in 2009, only 7% of research funding went to environmental causation.
It would benefit the community if SafeMinds and other organizations made it clear that the IACC has called for a greater level of support for environmental causation. It is also worth repeating, the IACC is an advisory committee and does not have control over what project proposals are submitted or funded.
Critique of the 2011 Summary of Advances
Thus far, very little understanding about autism or the treatment of it has been advanced by the IACC, in spite of its web page which claims otherwise. A thoughtful examination of the most recent research shows it has achieved little.
If one uses as the yardstick providing evidence for the vaccine hypothesis, one will be disappointed with the progress made. Holland also implies in the above that the IACC has more power than it has. Again, it is an advisory committee and does not do research nor does it control any research budget.
For example, the Strategic Plan research in 2011, which consisted of 20 different studies, is categorized as helping facilitate answers to 7 different questions about autism. These were the actual answers they found:
Holland's interpretation of the advances is demeaning and childish (in italics below). However, let's approach them in a more adult fashion than the one which she sets:
When should I be concerned? (2 studies)
Answer: By 1 year old, pediatricians should be checking.
The idea that autism can be identified before age 1 is an important one. Since this runs counter to the idea that vaccines cause autism typically in the second year of life, it is not surprising that Holland doesn't give this result respect. Perhaps Holland could explain why it is mockable that one could start on early intervention as soon as possible.
How can I understand what’s happening? (4 studies)
Answer: You can’t. It’s genetic.
Holland appears to be ignorant of the importance of genetic results. And genetics in general. Understanding which genes are important and the role they play is very important. Perhaps the best progress made so far in treating autism is for those with fragile-X, a genetic condition. By focused effort in this area over 2 decades, potential treatments are being made available. Treatments which may hold promise for treating autism even in autists without fragile-X.
What caused it? Can it be prevented? (5 studies)
Answers: Yes. No. It’s genetic. It’s environmental. It’s genes and the environment.
Once again, it is difficult to answer such a sarcastic and demeaning response. However, the fact that autism risk is multifactorial is important. Holland seems to want to quash genetic research in much the same manner that she wrongly claims environmental causation research was quashed.
Which treatments will help? (3 studies)
Answer: Most medications don’t work. Social engagement targets should be added to behavioral therapy goals. The LEAP model helps only if a teacher implements it well.
Learning what doesn't work is important. The alternative medical community, supported by groups such as EBCALA, would be wise to learn this lesson.
Where can I go for services for adults? (1 study)
Answer: Nowhere, even though the needs are high.
Holland could improve her argument if she were to point out where she, EBCALA or any of the groups promoting vaccine causation have stressed the need for services for adults in the last 10 years. Groups such as EBCALA groups have actively denied the existence of the adult autist population in order to promote the "epidemic".
What does the future hold for adults? (3 studies) 
Answer: (1) Nothing alarming. In the UK, there are just as many ASD children as adults, and since nothing has really changed over time, everything should be fine. (2) We don’t know. We have to research it more. (3) Technology will help somehow.
It is difficult to not note how insulting this comment is. Holland appears to have not read the report beyond the result that the autism prevalence is about 1% in adults. Adult autists are under employed and unemployed. Adult autists live alone. Adult autists are unidentified and unsupported. That this translates to "everything should be fine" is ignorant and insulting and demonstrates the contempt she and her organizations have shown for the needs of the adult autist population.
What other infrastructure and surveillance needs must be met? (2 studies)  
Answer: We need more studies, more early detection, and more services.
Does Holland disagree with the idea that we need more studies, more early detection and more services? The section title is "what...needs to be met". Are we supposed to say, "no needs. We have all the infrastructure and surveillance needs met". Holland's comment is sarcastic and demeaning.
To summarize, in spite of spending millions of dollars just in 2011, we learn that autism is genetic, environmental, a combination thereof, and that really, they still aren’t sure.

We learn that most medications don’t work. That therapy only works if the teacher is good. That social goals should be set for affected children. That there are no services for adults. That there is an increase in ASD, but there’s not an increase in ASD. And that pediatricians should be on the lookout for autism by one year of age. The monumental waste of time, money, resources, and effort that went into confirming, or confusing, that which could have been identified through common sense and daily life is stunning. None of these studies did anything to advance the quality of life for those affected by autism and their families. We can and must do better immediately.
To summarize, after a decade of actively working against improving the lives of adult autists, a decade focused on a single goal (vaccine causation), a decade of wasted effort, Holland, EBCALA and other organizations are now trying to shift the blame on to others for their own mistakes.
Demand for Change
Thankfully the government appears to have heard the demand for change. The demand for change away from a minority of parents controlling the public discourse. At the current rate of 1 in 88 American children, autism is a national health emergency. The time is long past due for the Department of Health and Human Services to start treating it like one. We are deeply dismayed by the federal government’s failure to respond to this crisis effectively and as such, seek the following:
Autism is a disability. Any rate of autism is a need for concern especially when our society does not properly support this population.
That the Department of Health and Human Services, under the direction of Secretary Sebelius, declares autism a national health emergency. The human and financial toll of autism is catastrophic. The problem cannot be solved unless it is first acknowledged.
This is just typical political rhetoric. Calling autism a "national health emergency" does nothing. Action, not words are needed. Action such as learning from the mistakes of Holland and like minded individuals who spent too much time chasing an idea which had little support from the beginning and now is clearly false.
That those who have been in charge of autism policies in this Administration, including Dr. Insel, chair of the IACC, be fired. The rate of autism has risen steadily on Dr. Insel’s watch. We expect accountability. The new members of IACC should all be dismissed, and the new Chair of IACC should commence a new search for committee members.
We, the majority, also expect accountability. We expect that those who have driven the public discussion on autism into fruitless areas like vaccine causation should step aside and allow people of action and good ideas to step in. Thankfully the government appears to have heard this plea.
That Secretary Sebelius meet with a group of representatives from FOCUS Autism, a coalition of organizations representing over 100,000 people, to discuss the autism health emergency. We do not sense that she understands the urgency of this situation.
The fact that the same few autism groups can continually make new organizations (canary party, FOCUS autism, etc.) and make unsubstantiated claims of broad support doesn't make for progress.
That the General Accounting Office study past autism funding to see why almost all money went to genetic research, which we now know, based on peer-reviewed science, is not the predominant factor in autism. Environmental research has been grossly underfunded. We want to understand if corporate interests or other improper interests distorted research priorities.
Here Holland does one of her most ironic steps: she uses recent results (the California Autism Twin Study) while claiming that no good results have come forth in autism research. She denies the strong heritable component demonstrated in the CATS, effectively saying that the risk factors for about 1/2 of the autist population are unimportant and should be ignored.
That the Center for Disease Control and Prevention rescind their recommendation for day of birth vaccination against hepatitis B. There is no medical reason for this intervention at such an early and fragile point in infant development. The CDC has never demonstrated the medical necessity for this extremely serious intervention. Peer-reviewed science has shown an association between day of birth hepatitis B vaccination and autism. Vaccination against hepatitis B, unless the mother is herself infected, should occur around puberty when children themselves might be at risk of contracting the disease.
What does this have to do with autism? Answer: nothing.

The medical reason for this intervention is that it works. Hepatitis B infection rates are dropping in the US with the implementation of childhood vaccination. Holland ignores the very real risks to infants from Hepatitis B infection, which include chronic infection which leads to serious complications and death. Waiting for puberty for this vaccination would put a great deal of people at risk.
That the Government Reform and Oversight Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives hold hearings in the near future on the role of federal authorities in this crisis. No Congressional committee has looked seriously at the conflicts of interest in federal activity on autism in almost ten years. As part of this process, Congress must examine the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and how it has been quietly acknowledging autism as a vaccine injury for almost 25 years. We need real inquiry by Congress into this debacle.
Holland feels that her own study is much stronger than it actually is. Having made one weak attempt to claim a conflict of interest in the IACC, she now moves for a congressional inquiry into COI's in all federal activity?
Every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed with autism. It affects every aspect of the child’s life, his or her family members’ lives, and the community. In some states, we now have as many as 1 in 29 American boys falling somewhere on the spectrum. The argument that this is due to better diagnosis on the one hand, and bad diagnosis on the other, is outrageous and irresponsible. Even Dr. Insel has admitted the rise in autism cannot be attributed to better diagnosis, stating, “…there is no question that there has got to be an environmental component here.”
Holland has cherry picked a quote out of the proper context. Insel was speaking to the idea of better diagnosis. He can be found here discussing the effects of diagnostic changes and changes in ascertainment. From this she further puts words in his mouth.
Given his own admission that autism is absolutely on the rise; given that there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic; given that since the enactment of the Combating Autism Act in 2006, we have not only not advanced our understanding of autism, but have watched it explode in incidence, we demand that our Administration take our concerns seriously and act expeditiously to do better.
Insel's comment in the very interview Holland is referring to is "As far as I can tell, the burden of proof is upon anybody who feels that there is NOT a real increase here in the number of kids affected" A strong statement but not an "admission that autism is absolutely on the rise".

Holland makes the common mistake of misrepresenting incidence. We don't have true incidence data in the U.S. or elsewhere. We have prevalence estimates. Estimates which are acknowledged to be likely undercounting autists in our population. A series of underestimates, even if the estimates are going up, is not the same thing as an increase in the actual number of autists.
To continue to ignore the urgent needs of our most vulnerable population is a moral failing the likes of which our nation has perhaps never seen. Unless we do something drastic immediately, this is destined to be our legacy.
A large fraction, perhaps the largest fraction, of our "most vulnerable population" are adult autists. Holland may not have seen them before, but they are most definitely here. Her denial of their existence has resulted in a delay in understanding the needs of this population. Truly a moral failing in the service of a political goal: the acknowedgement of a "vaccine epidemic" in spite of evidence to the contrary.
We must choose to be the kind of government that is willing to honestly, thoroughly, independently, and adequately investigate the autism epidemic, regardless of where it may lead; to acknowledge any role we may have inadvertently played in its causation or continuation; and to use all of our strength, talent, and resources to do whatever it takes to make it right.
We must chose our organizational leaders the same way. Which is why the majority of autists and parents are not members of the groups that Holland is allied with.
Our children, and the world’s children, deserve nothing less.
Sadly, she ends with the same sentiments that have gotten us into such trouble: the feeling that autism is only about children. Adult autists just don't seem to exist in her world view.

People, autists or not, children or not, deserve nothing less than an abandonment of the type of leadership Mary Holland has provided.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bad month for the Geiers: Mark R. Geier's medical license suspended in Florida

On 3 August 2012, the Florida Board of Medicine decided (according to their preliminary minutes, full decision to be linked when it is published now added) that Mark Robin Geier is: to pay a $1000 dollar fine, the costs of the procedure, and not to practice in Florida until he petitions for reinstatement and appears before the Probation Committee. This follows a previous complaint by the Florida Dept of Health which Todd W. explained back in March.
13  Allegations of the Administrative Complaint: Violation of Florida Statutes s. 458.331(1)(b), FS
14  (2010) – Having a license or the authority to practice medicine revoked, suspended, or otherwise
15  acted against, including the denial of licensure, by the licensing authority of any jurisdiction,
16  including its agencies or subdivisions; s. 458.331(1)(kk), FS (2010) – Failing to report to the
17  board, in writing, within 30 days if action as defined in paragraph (b) has been taken against
18  one’s license to practice medicine in another state, territory, or country; and s. 458.331(1)(w), FS
19  (2010) – Delegating professional responsibilities to a person when the licensee delegating such
20  responsibilities knows or has reason to know that such person is not qualified by training,
21  experience, or licensure to perform them.  
I must admit a certain amount of relief at the sight of the "suspended" watermarks behind Mark Geier's license on the Florida Dept of Health's Practitioner Profile. It means that children in one more State are safe from unproven autism "therapies".

Time to update that map, Todd...

ETA: Todd W. has a description of the Florida proceedings and updates from Indiana and Maryland.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Polio Nearing Eradication

Last week Angola announced there were no new cases of polio since July 2011.
LAUNDA, 10 August, 2012 – Today, Angola marks a year without a new wild poliovirus case, moving the world a step closer to the final global goal of eradicating this contagious crippling disease forever.
After a concerted effort to stop polio transmission the number of polio cases dropped from 33 in 2010 to five in 2011 and no cases registered in 2012. Laboratory results have confirmed that the last case of wild poliovirus was a 14-month-old child from Uige Province in the country's Northwest in July 2011.
This marks a victory for the polio eradication initiative as Angola experienced a resurgence of polio in the last 6 years.
Angola, which eliminated polio from 2001 to 2004, has been plagued by the re-emergence of this crippling disease since May 2005. The disease has since spread from Angola to Namibia (2006), the Democratic Republic of Congo (2006, 2008 and 2010), and the Republic of Congo (2010).
Religious opposition and the U.S. CIA's use of a sham vaccine campaign have caused setbacks in some African and Middle East countries.  However UNICEF is working closely with religious leaders, particularly in Pakistan which has recorded one of the highest number of polio cases in the world.

Several other countries have no polio cases on record thus far for 2012 making only four countries recording polio cases for this year, Afganistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Chad.  This is good news for global vaccine efforts and the eradication of polio in sight.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

US/CDC recommendations for the prevention and control of Influenza 2012/13

the new CDC recommendations are out - have a read. The CDC also provides detailed considerations on vaccine doses for children under 8 and adverse effects.

Note: due to the recent amount of waffling trolls on this board, only genuine questions regarding flu vaccine, schedule etc. will be tolerated in this thread.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Australian Anti-Vaccination Network AVN pwned by stopAVN statistician at their own seminar

Since we didn't post anything yesterday, here's a quick post to celebrate Stop the AVN's Scotty Harrison's beautiful talk at the Australian Anti-Vaccination Network's seminar "Vaccination and health - your right to choose" held in Armidale NSW a couple of days ago. I think the audience and organisers were expecting a slightly different take on the issue than they got - have a look and hear the guffaws about 3 minutes in as the penny drops:

Rather small-mindedly, the organisers turned down Scotty's generous offer of coming back for the next seminar the next day to provide some balance. Pwned - just beautiful - cheers mate!

Christmas is nigh - donate vaccines to UNICEF and get the t-shirt

I cannot believe that the first Christmas chocolate selection boxes have already made it into some stores. That means Christmas must be imminent, right? I guess any month is a good month to think of gifts, so let me advertise this fabulous idea (for which I am not getting any commission or anything, I just want to share the thrill of saving lives - feel free to donate any other way you see fit).

Measles kill more than 600 children every day (for example 100 in Pakistan since May), and those who survive may be left with disabilities such as blindness and brain damage. $24.30 can pay for vaccination of 81 children against measles. 100% of your donation will go to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support life-saving relief efforts for children. I have the shirt from last Christmas:

There are other fabulous ways to save lives - consider donating mosquito nets ($18.57 will get you the shirt and three people in malaria stricken areas an insecticide treated net):

$36.10 will buy 1000 deworming tablets and one dead worm will feature on your shirt:

You are anti-vaccine and you think that really all is needed to prevent disease is food and water? Put your money where your mouth is and provide a water pump ($500):

or 1200 vitamin enriched high energy biscuits ($59.96):

and if you want to give that very special present and money doesn't matter - consider getting your loved one a UNICEF Cargo Flight from Denmark to Kenia - at $300'000 it is a steal and the t-shirt you'll get will be a beautiful understatement of your generosity:

Check out all donation options and beautiful t-shirts illustrated by Christine and Justin Gignac on Threadless and tell us which choice you have made for your present :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

UK Measles Cases Continue to Rise

Sussex county, United Kingdom now has 314 confirmed measles cases second to Merseyside's 414 confirmed cases.
Sussex has more cases of measles than any county in the nation other than Merseyside. Brighton and Hove experienced 186 reported cases this year while East Sussex has 88 cases and West Sussex has 40 cases. Through all of 2011, the county reported 173 cases, the Argus reports.
The increase in cases is due to still insufficient measles vaccine rates.  This brings the total number of UK cases to over 1279 for 2012.  The EU has reported over 18,000 cases of measles for 2012.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thank you, parent A - David Geier fined for practicing Medicine without a license

The world is full of people willing to take advantage of the desperation of parents of "sick" children. One prime example of this are the team of father (Dr. Mark) and son (David) Geier, who are peddling their own "autism treatment". In short, their hypothesis is that testosterone in the body interacts with mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines, retaining this in the body, which somehow causes autism. Sounds crazy? Not crazy enough apparently to discourage parents from choosing to visit Dr Geier's clinic and getting their children treated with a strong drug, Lupron (also used for chemical castration) to "get rid" of the testosterone and subsequently making the mercury accessible to "chelation". You can read Kathleen Seidel's excellent summaries of the Geiers' undertakings, their misrepresentation of the science, and their financial interests here. Essentially, the weird testosterone-mercury hypothesis became a money printing machine. Children would come to the clinic, scores of blood tests would be ordered from "special labs" that would come back with the "right" diagnosis for billing purposes. "Precocious puberty" would be diagnosed and Lupron prescribed (which would then be billed to insurance companies). Apparently, David Geier, who holds a BA in Biology, was seeing patients and advising parents in his father's clinic.

Many people have been thinking for years that father and son Geier should be in prison for their abuse of autistic children, their exploitation of the parents seeking their help and their health insurance companies. Complaints were made to the various State Medical Boards where Mark Geier held licenses and, one after the other, very slowly, those were removed - Todd W is keeping tab.

Now, finally, David Geier has been convicted of "Practicing medicine without a license" by the Maryland State Board of Physicians and ordered to pay US$ 10.000 (being let off very lightly IMHO). Read the whole ruling if you have the time. The audacity is amazing (the spelling mistakes in the "diagnosis" written up by David Geier are priceless, but he charged parent A "only" $150 for it). Thanks are due to "parent A", who remained vigilant and filed a complaint when she saw the inconsistencies in the treatment of her son and the billing documents.

Also covered by LBRB and Neurologica

Monday, August 13, 2012

To Hep B or Not to Hep B...

The Hepatitis B vaccine, particularly the infant birth dose has been somewhat controversial as of late.  The reasons for this are based upon fallacious claims by so-called experts and dodgy studies.  But parents need to base their decisions on facts, not junk science and not proclamations from self-proclaimed experts who have never even conducted research.  Let's examine the facts about hepatitis B disease and vaccine:

Mythical Claim: Hepatitis B is a sexually or IV drug transmitted disease.

Fact: Hepatitis B is not just a sexually or IV drug transmitted disease.  It is the primary mode of transmission in industrialised countries, like the U.S. but in others, vertical transmission i.e. from mother to newborn during birth is the most prevalent mode of transmission and worldwide, accounts for 40-50% of hepatitis b infections.  Hepatitis B virus is spread via infected blood or bodily fluids through breaks in the skin and mucosa.  Additionally, hepatitis b virus can remain infectious on inanimate objects such as razors and surfaces for a week.

Prior to 1991 in the U.S. it has been estimated that 16,000 children under the age of ten years old were infected each year through contact with HBsAg-positive family/household members and outside contacts.  Also during that time, 30-40% of adults infected had no risk factors which implies more casual contact with infected people and/or fomites with hepatitis b virus contamination.

Mythical Claim: Most people who get hepatitis B virus clear it.

Fact: Most adults who become infected with hepatitis b are able to clear the virus, however it is estimated that 17.5% of those who acquire hepatitis b remain infected and become lifelong carriers.  About 25% of carriers who experience acute clinical illness die of cirrhosis or primary liver cancer.  The younger the age at infection, the greater the risk of becoming a chronic, lifelong carrier is.  Seventy to ninety percent of infants born to HBeAg positive mothers and don't receive immunoprophlaxis (hepatitis b vaccination and immunoglobulin) will become chronically-infected by the age of six months old.

Mythical Claim: I don't need to get tested for hepatitis b when I'm pregnant.

Fact: The recommendation is for all pregnant woman to get tested for hepatitis b surface antigen (HbsAg). It is crucial that you know what your test results are and what they mean.  The tests used are not 100% accurate but do have excellent specificity and sensitivity.  Anyone in the household or other close contacts should also be tested.  If using a midwife, please be sure that hepatitis b testing is done.

Mythical Claim: Other countries don't give a birth dose of hepatitis b vaccine.  The U.S. shouldn't be giving newborns a vaccination.

Fact: Other countries do administer a birth dose of hepatitis b vaccine:  Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Germany and Latvia (if mother is HbsAg positive or unknown status), Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Turkey.  This is just the EU.  Some factors to consider when trying to compare the U.S. to other countries that don't vaccinate for hepatitis b is healthcare systems, epidemiology of the disease and immigration.  The U.S.doesn't have universal healthcare as do many EU countries which means that many hepatitis b infected pregnant women and their contacts fall through the cracks and don't know their hepatitis b status.  The U.S. has a high rate of immigration and visitors from countries with high endemicity of hepatitis b.  Although the UK is experiencing an increasing rate of hepatitis b-infected pregnant women who have emigrated from other countries.  During the period of 1990 to 2004, the incidence of hepatitis b infection declined in children 19 years and younger by 94% when the hepatitis b series starting from birth was implemented.  This didn't happen by magic.

Hepatitis b infection in newborns carries an extremely high risk of chronic infection and complications of fulminant liver disease.  There is no guarantee that teenagers who become sexually-active and become infected will clear the virus and not also become chronic carriers, not even your beliefs in a "superior" lifestyle.  Please base your decisions on facts and not fictitious claims meant to incite fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Best Anti-Vaccine Comment Ever!

We recently got an anonymous commentor on the Sue Reid propagates MMR Manufactuversy in the Daily Mail post.  She, by far, represents everything that is so wrong  with anti-vaxx dogma and offers a chilling glimpse into the tortured, erratic, absurd and obtuse mind that latches onto vaccine disinformation.
Anonymous first stated:
my son survived because a life saving surgery to fix his colon has been introduced. 50 years ago, he would not have survived!
I then asked:
Now let me ask you this about your child's medical procedure. Did you demand studies from the surgeons that the procedure had been submitted to controlled trials for several years before being performed on your child? Why not?
And then came this from Anonymous (in its glorious, grammar-addled entirety):
Your stupid question Science mom...
Did you demand studies from the surgeons that the procedure had been submitted to controlled trials for several years before being performed on your child? Why not?

Where have I ever led you to believe that I rely on scientific research to make my decisions. My son needed a life saving surgery, and because of advancements in science, he is here today, taking a direct hand in decreasing infant mortality. stop giving credit to your vaccines!
For you gals WHO need so called research to think for yourselves...Where is the solid evidence that babies, who get more than two-dozen doses of vaccines by age six months, are healthier as they grow up than those, who get fewer vaccines or no vaccines? No large, prospective studies have been done comparing the long-term health outcomes of children, who are vaccinated according to the CDC schedule, with those, who are not. I will again take my awesome intuition leading me to think for myself over your "research" conducted by the giant pharmaceuticals, coupled with law makers that are recipients of the deep pockets of these companies. they are the ones who use fear mongering tactics to sell more and more vaccines. Stop accusing Sue Reid and let her write about our debated topic here.. don't you see the conflict of interest with all your "research"?

well here in America, we are progressively challenging the bloated and expensive vaccine schedule and are telling doctors and legislators: "Show Us the Science, and Give Us the Choice." yes i took this from an anti vaccine website -- so what, get over it.
Your children may be healthy now, but you will never know how healthy they could be without all the toxins you are giving them. you Gals, have yet to answer my looming question - what is your explanation (don't care if it is scientific or not) of the growing number of neurological and other disorders? please..I would really love to know?? If your child or (someone you know), suddenly develops lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other auto immune disorders later in life.. you may consider you lended a hand by inundating them with toxins.

so we are clear about the toxins: (to name a few) There is aluminum in Hep B... There are also trace or residual amounts of 2-phenoxyethanol, phenol, albumin, sucrose, lactose, MSG, glycine, formaldehyde, and antibiotics (neomycin) in vaccines. These are very small amounts, but do we want to continually inject even small amounts of these toxins directly into our tiny babies’ developing bodies, given their inability to detoxify and how vulnerable they are to low levels of toxins? If trace amounts of formaldehyde, MSG, or antibiotics were in foods that were to be given to our babies, most of us wouldn’t allow it. Yet, these toxins go directly into the baby’s bloodstream. Vaccines also can contain egg and yeast proteins. We delay giving our babies solid foods, mostly to avoid the proteins that can cause allergies. Why would we inject isolated proteins into their bodies at 2 months old?
Please understand, I am not in favor of any shots... so please stop criticizing my debate, saying i am not posting to the right blog or what does this have to do with MMR or whatever. I am speaking out against them all.

The Italian family received justice. the vaccine was the tipping point, full stop! and Italian court agrees.....THEY WON! :o)
These bear repeating more than I can say:
"Where have I ever led you to believe that I rely on scientific research to make my decisions."
"For you gals WHO need so called research to think for yourselves..."
"I will again take my awesome intuition leading me to think for myself over your "research" conducted by the giant pharmaceuticals, coupled with law makers that are recipients of the deep pockets of these companies."
She don't need no steenkin science, she's got her awesome...
But but but then goes on to say:
well here in America, we are progressively challenging the bloated and expensive vaccine schedule and are telling doctors and legislators: "Show Us the Science, and Give Us the Choice." yes i took this from an anti vaccine website -- so what, get over it.
And this is it, my sublime epiphany.  Oh sure many others have identified and analysed the incongruity, hypocrisy and flat-out deception that embody anti-vaxx diatribes.  But for me, this comment is an unmitigated exposition of what we are dealing with and why we will never, ever be able to proffer any study, any explanation or any debate good enough for them to accept what is so antithetical to their awesome...
I have no good answers to combat this and I am left to continue to speculate on the state of education in the United States that people such as Anonymous can find their way onto the internets and make comments like this in earnest.  Regardless, it is cathartic to achieve this realisation and I will continue to pillory and counter anti-vaccine disinformation as long as I care to.