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Vaccines
Calling The Shots

Vaccines (2014) - 60 minutes
Vaccines at Amazon.com

Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago - including whooping cough, measles, mumps - are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children's shots. Vaccines - Calling the Shots, a new NOVA special, takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, and shed light on the risks of opting out.

The vast majority of Americans vaccinate their children, and most do it on the recommended schedule. Yet many people have questions about the safety of vaccines, and in some communities, vaccination rates have fallen below the level needed to maintain "herd immunity" - allowing outbreaks to take hold and spread. This film draws on the latest, best available evidence to help parents find the answers.

Highlighting real cases and placing them in historical context, Vaccines - Calling the Shots traces outbreaks of communicable diseases and demonstrates just how fast they can spread - and how many people can fall sick - when a community's immunity barrier falls.

7-11-17 Measles 'tragedy' kills 35 across Europe
Measles 'tragedy' kills 35 across Europe
Thirty-five people have died in the past year from measles outbreaks across Europe, the World Health Organization has warned. It described the deaths - which can be prevented with vaccination - as an "unacceptable tragedy". A six-year-old boy in Italy was the latest to die from the infection. More than 3,300 measles cases have been recorded in the country. The most fatalities - 31 - have been in Romania. But there have also been deaths in Germany and Portugal since June 2016. Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO regional director for Europe, said: "Every death or disability caused by this vaccine-preventable disease is an unacceptable tragedy. "We are very concerned that although a safe, effective and affordable vaccine is available, measles remains a leading cause of death among children worldwide, and unfortunately Europe is not spared. "I urge all endemic countries to take urgent measures to stop transmission of measles within their borders, and all countries that have already achieved this to keep up their guard and sustain high immunisation coverage." Measles is highly contagious, but vaccinating 95% of the population should prevent it spreading. (Webmaster's comment: Not vaccinating your children can be death sentence for them, and turn your child into a carrier of death for other children.)

7-11-17 First vaccine shows gonorrhoea protection
First vaccine shows gonorrhoea protection
A vaccine has for the first time been shown to protect against the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhoea, scientists in New Zealand say. There are fears gonorrhoea is becoming untreatable as antibiotics fail. The World Health Organization sees developing a vaccine as vital in stopping the global spread of "super-gonorrhoea". The study of 15,000 young people, published in the Lancet, showed infections were cut by about a third. About 78 million people pick up the sexually transmitted infection each year, and it can cause infertility. But the body does not build up resistance no matter how many times someone is infected. The vaccine, originally developed to stop an outbreak of meningitis B, was given to about a million adolescents in New Zealand between 2004 and 2006. Researchers at the University of Auckland analysed data from sexual health clinics and found gonorrhoea cases had fallen 31% in those vaccinated. The bacterium that causes meningitis, Neisseria meningitidis, is a very close relative of the species that causes gonorrhoea - Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It appears the Men B jab was giving "cross-protection" against gonorrhoea. Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, one of the researchers, said: "This is the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea. At the moment, the mechanism behind this immune response is unknown, but our findings could inform future vaccine development." Protection seemed to last about two years.

7-10-17 The fight against gonorrhea gets a potential new weapon: a vaccine
The fight against gonorrhea gets a potential new weapon: a vaccine
Shot that curbs meningitis also appears to reduce infections of the sexually transmitted disease. Gonorrhea culprit Neisseria gonorrhoeae (left, in false color) is genetically similar to bacteria that can cause meningitis, Neisseria meningitidis (right, in false color). That close relationship might explain why a vaccine that curbed meningitis in New Zealand also seemed to reduce gonorrhea infections. A vaccine against meningitis has an unexpected side effect: It appears to target gonorrhea, too. If confirmed, the results represent the first instance of a vaccine reducing gonorrhea infections. After receiving a vaccine aimed at a type of meningitis, people were less likely to contract gonorrhea, scientists report online June 10 in the Lancet. That’s a big deal because worldwide each year, an estimated 78 million people contract gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause pelvic inflammation, infertility and throat infections. Gonorrhea’s bacterial culprit, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, has developed resistance to many antibiotics, making treatment much more difficult. Some strains of gonorrhea can now resist all known antibiotics, the Word Health Organization announced July 7. “We are in desperate need for new therapies,” says Christine Johnston, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Washington in Seattle. Attempts to make a gonorrhea vaccine have failed so far. The new results are “the first to show that vaccination against gonorrhea could be possible,” Johnston says.

7-10-17 Meningitis B vaccines may fight the rise of super-gonorrhoea
Meningitis B vaccines may fight the rise of super-gonorrhoea
Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea has spread worldwide. Now there’s hope that existing vaccines for meningitis could control gonorrhoea before it becomes unbeatable. A vaccine for meningitis B may stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant super-gonorrhoea. We desperately need a vaccine for the sexually transmitted infection. Last week, the World Health Organization reported that 81 per cent of the 77 countries that have looked for antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea found strains resistant to azithromycin, the main antibiotic used to fight the disease. Two-thirds of these countries had strains that were resistant to one of two “last resort” antibiotics, cefixime or ceftriaxone. Some cases resist all three of these drugs, and are effectively incurable. This means that even people who are treated for the infection can continue to harbour and spread the bacteria. According to the WHO, only three new drugs to combat gonorrhoea are being tested in people. Even if these work, bacteria could evolve to evade them. A vaccine “will ultimately be the only sustainable way to achieve control” of gonorrhoea, the agency warns. But so far, experimental vaccines have all failed. Remarkably, an existing licensed vaccine may do the trick – a finding David Fisman at the University of Toronto, Canada, describes as “incredible news”.

7-5-17 Cancer vaccines could prime our own bodies to fight tumours
Cancer vaccines could prime our own bodies to fight tumours
Two therapies that trigger the immune system into attacking cancer suggest personalised vaccines can eradicate tumours, but bigger trials are needed. COULD this be the cancer advance we have been waiting for? Cancer vaccines that can trigger a person’s immune system into killing a tumour have long been a goal. Now two slightly different ways of doing this have had promising results. The therapies need to be tested in bigger trials, but the initial results from a small number of people with skin cancer are being heralded as major progress. “This could be huge,” says Cornelis Melief of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Our immune system recognises bacteria and viruses as foreign invaders by the different protein molecules they have on their surface. Because tumour cells have mutations that also make them look different, the immune system sometimes targets them – but the cancers that prove fatal somehow escape this attack. For decades, researchers have been trying to find ways to ramp up the immune response to tumours, usually by injecting people with immune-stimulating drugs and the molecules thought to be present on the surface of the cancer cells. However, so far, nothing has worked well. Part of the problem may be that all cancers are different – each person’s tumour can have hundreds of mutations. Also, prompting the immune system to target one particular molecule can fail because tumours can mutate again and stop being recognised.

6-30-17 Hope for a heart disease vaccine
Hope for a heart disease vaccine
A vaccine against heart ­disease has worked successfully in mice, raising the possibility that scientists will develop a breakthrough technique that could save millions of lives. Researchers in Europe tested the experimental vaccine on mice that were fed an unhealthy, high-fat Western diet, leaving them with high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, fatty buildup in the arteries that increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The vaccine effectively lowered the total blood cholesterol level of the mice by 53 percent, The Guardian (U.K.) reports. It also reduced arterial damage linked to atherosclerosis by 64 percent and led to a 28 percent drop in markers of blood vessel inflammation. The vaccine works by triggering the production of antibodies that block an enzyme called PCSK9, which prevents the body from clearing LDL, or “bad” cholesterol from the blood. The antibodies produced by the vaccine remained at high levels throughout the entire 18-week study, suggesting the shot has long-term benefits, unlike daily cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which can cause muscle pain, confusion, digestive issues, and other side effects. The vaccine is currently being tested on 72 people, with results of the Phase I clinical trial expected by the end of the year. “If these findings translate successfully into humans,” says Gunther Staffler, one of the vaccine’s developers, “we could develop a long-lasting therapy that, after the first vaccination, just needs an annual booster.”

6-28-17 Getting a flu ‘shot’ could soon be as easy as sticking on a Band-Aid
Getting a flu ‘shot’ could soon be as easy as sticking on a Band-Aid
Sticky patch with vaccine-infused microneedles prompted immune response. A patch has an array of microneedles that penetrate the skin to deliver a dose of the flu vaccine. DIY vaccination may be on its way. In the first test in adults, a Band-Aid?like patch studded with dissolving microneedles safely and effectively delivered a dose of influenza vaccine. People using the patch had a similar immune response to the flu vaccine as those who received a typical flu shot, researchers report online June 27 in the Lancet. And nearly all of the patch users described the experience as painless. The patch eliminates the need for safe needle disposal, and since it is stable at room temperature for at least a year, it doesn’t require refrigeration, unlike other vaccines. So, it could eventually end up on pharmacy shelves, making vaccination more akin to picking up aspirin than visiting a doctor. Along with possibly improving vaccination rates in the United States, the patch could make delivering vaccines in developing countries easier, too, the researchers say.

6-28-17 Italian father in passionate vaccines plea to Veneto governor
Italian father in passionate vaccines plea to Veneto governor
An Italian father has written a heartfelt letter to a regional governor, urging him not to challenge a new law making vaccination compulsory. Nicola Pomaro's young daughter suffers from severe auto-immune deficiency. In the letter, he says plummeting rates of vaccination in Italy - which the new law seeks to reverse - represent "a mortal danger to my daughter" and thousands of others. He urges Veneto Governor Luca Zaia to abandon his legal challenge. Measles rates have soared in Italy in 2017 as vaccination rates have fallen well below the 95% threshold which scientists say prevent the disease circulating in the general population. Officials have blamed the declining take-up in part on anti-vaccination statements by the populist Five Star Movement, as well as the now-discredited work of Andrew Wakefield, a doctor struck off the UK medical register in 2010. (Webmaster's comment: Unvaccinated children are disease carriers that can kill other people. Vaccination of children for infectious diseases should be mandatory.)

6-9-17 Parents eye Austrian asylum in Italy vaccination dispute
Parents eye Austrian asylum in Italy vaccination dispute
A group of German-speaking parents in northern Italy are so angry about a new requirement to get their children vaccinated that they plan to seek asylum in nearby Austria. The 130 families live in Alto Adige - also known as South Tyrol - a region that was part of Austria before 1919. Last month the Italian government ruled that children must be vaccinated against 12 common illnesses before they can enrol for state-run schools. Cases of measles have risen in Italy. The highly-contagious sickness is fatal in some cases. Some other European countries, including France and Romania, have also seen more measles cases this year. In some parts of Europe, including Italy, vaccination rates have dropped below those recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). (Webmaster's comment: The absolute STUPIDITY of those who don't want to vaccinate their children is beyond belief!)

5-26-17 Germany vaccination: Fines plan as measles cases rise
Germany vaccination: Fines plan as measles cases rise
The German government plans to fine parents up to €2,500 (£2,178; $2,806) if they fail to get medical advice about vaccinating their children. Health Minister Hermann Gröhe said it was necessary to tighten the law because of a measles epidemic. He was speaking to the popular daily Bild. "Continuing deaths from measles cannot leave anyone indifferent," he said. The government wants kindergartens to report any parents who lack proof of having had a medical consultation. Failure to get advice about vaccination could mean expulsion of the child from the daycare centre, under the revised law. It is expected to be adopted next month. A mother of three died of measles in the city of Essen this week. However, Germany is not yet making it an offence to refuse vaccinations - unlike Italy. And the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, said forcing kindergartens to report some parents to the health authorities might breach data protection laws. (Webmaster's comment: Not getting vaccinated is as irresponsible as drunk driving! Unvaccinated people can kill other people!)

5-12-17 Measles outbreak
Measles outbreak
Minnesota health officials this week blamed anti-vaccine activists for the state’s worst measles outbreak in nearly 30 years, with at least 48 confirmed cases of the virus reported in recent weeks. The vast majority of the measles cases are in unvaccinated Somali-American children 10 years old or younger in the Minneapolis area. Vaccine skepticism began spreading in the Somali-American community there in 2008, after parents noticed a disproportionate number of Somali children receiving special-education services for autism. “At that point, the anti-vaccine groups just really started targeting the community,” said Minnesota Department of Health official Kristen Ehresmann. Those groups later promoted a fraudulent study that proposed a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. By 2014, vaccination rates among Somali-American children in Minnesota had plummeted to about 40 percent.

5-10-17 Minnesota measles outbreak follows anti-vaccination campaign
Minnesota measles outbreak follows anti-vaccination campaign
Anti-vaccination activists have been targeting Minnesota's Somali-American community, among whom the MMR vaccination rate has halved in a decade. THE state of Minnesota is in the throes of its biggest measles outbreak in 27 years. As of 5 May, 44 cases had been confirmed. Of these, 42 people were unvaccinated, and 38 belonged to the state’s Somali-American community. In 2008, some Somali parents raised concerns over what they perceived to be a high rate of autism in Somali-American children. A subsequent study by the University of Minnesota, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Institutes of Health found that autism rates among Somalis in Minneapolis were in fact similar to those of the city’s white population. Nevertheless, the concerns of the Somali community prompted anti-vaccination groups to begin targeting Somalis in Minnesota. Former doctor Andrew Wakefield, who lives in Texas, visited Somali communities in Minnesota several times, speaking to parents. Wakefield’s discredited 1998 study suggested a link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Between 2004 and 2014, the MMR immunisation rate among 2-year-old Somali-Americans born in Minnesota dropped from 92 to 42 per cent.

4-28-17 HPV vaccine as cancer prevention is a message that needs to catch on
HPV vaccine as cancer prevention is a message that needs to catch on
New infection stats should be ‘a wake-up call’ to spur lagging vaccination rates. In the United States, HPV vaccination rates lag for girls and boys. The message that the vaccine prevents cancer isn’t getting out there, researchers say. Cancer prevention isn’t the first thing that comes to many parents’ minds when they consider vaccinating their preteens against human papillomavirus, or HPV. And the fact that HPV is transmitted sexually gives the vaccine more baggage than a crowded international flight. But what gets lost in the din is the goal of vaccination, to protect adolescents from infection with HPV types that are responsible for numerous cancers. Newly released estimates show just how prevalent HPV infections are in the United States. In April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported for 2013-2014 that among adults ages 18 to 59, 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women had genital infections with HPV types that put them at risk of developing cancer. That’s just a snapshot in time. For those who are sexually active, more than 90 percent of men and 80 percent of women can expect to become infected with at least one type of HPV during their lives. About half of those infections will be with a high-risk HPV type.

4-28-17 Measles, mumps come back
Measles, mumps come back
Measles and mumps are vaccine-preventable diseases that once seemed all but eradicated. But now these highly contagious viral infections are enjoying a resurgence in the U.S., where herd immunity—when enough people are immunized to protect the whole population—is on the decline, thanks in part to the anti-vaccination movement. Texas health officials report the number of mumps cases in the state just hit a 22-year high; so far this year, 221 people have been diagnosed with the virus, which can lead to deafness, brain inflammation, and other complications. Mumps can be prevented with the MMR vaccine, which also protects against measles and rubella, but the recommended two doses are only 88 percent effective against the virus. Immunity against mumps also wanes over time. Recurring outbreaks have prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to consider a third routine dose of the vaccine. Safety concerns about the MMR vaccine, however, have also allowed measles, which can cause lung and brain damage, to make a comeback. “Because some parents are withholding their children from vaccination,” infectious disease specialist William Schaffner tells MedicalNewsToday.com (Webmaster's comment: Unvaccinated people and children are ignorant disease carriers.)

4-24-17 Malaria: Kenya, Ghana and Malawi get first vaccine
Malaria: Kenya, Ghana and Malawi get first vaccine
The world's first vaccine against malaria will be introduced in three countries - Ghana, Kenya and Malawi - starting in 2018. The RTS,S vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite, which is spread by mosquito bites. The World Health Organization (WHO) said the jab had the potential to save tens of thousands of lives. But it is not yet clear if it will be feasible to use in the poorest parts of the world. The vaccine needs to be given four times - once a month for three months and then a fourth dose 18 months later. This has been achieved in tightly controlled and well-funded clinical trials, but it is not yet clear if it can be done in the "real-world" where access to health care is limited. It is why the WHO is running pilots in three countries to see if a full malaria vaccine programme could be started. It will also continue to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccination. (Webmaster's comment: Not getting vaccinated makes you a disease carrier and causes stupidity!)

4-21-17 Chlamydia vaccine for koalas slows spread of deadly disease
Chlamydia vaccine for koalas slows spread of deadly disease
First results from trials of single-jab vaccine offer hope that the sexually transmitted disease devastating Australia’s koala population can be halted. A single-jab vaccine could halt the chlamydia epidemic wiping out Australia’s koalas. It may even pave the way for a human chlamydia vaccine. In trials, the new vaccine has been shown to slow the rate of new infections and treat early-stage disease. A third of Australia’s koalas have been lost over the last two decades, largely due to the spread of chlamydia, which now affects between 50 and 100 per cent of wild populations. The sexually transmitted disease causes painful urinary tract inflammation, infertility and blindness. Chlamydia in koalas is caused by Chlamydia pecorum, a bacterium that may have spread from livestock introduced from Europe. A similar bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, causes chlamydia in humans. Antibiotics can be used to treat chlamydia in koalas, but they only work in early-stage disease, do not prevent re-infection, and they must be administered daily for at least 30 days in captivity. Moreover, some infected koalas remain asymptomatic and are overlooked for treatment while they continue to spread the disease. (Webmaster's comment: Vaccines work on animals too, but they don't work for ignorant humans that don't get vaccinated.)

3-28-17 Measles outbreak across Europe
Measles outbreak across Europe
Measles is spreading across Europe wherever immunisation coverage has dropped, the World Health Organization is warning. The largest outbreaks are being seen in Italy and Romania. In the first month of this year, Italy reported more than 200 cases. Romania has reported more than 3,400 cases and 17 deaths since January 2016. Measles is highly contagious. Travel patterns mean no person or country is beyond its reach, says the WHO. For good protection, it's recommended that at least 95% of the population is vaccinated against the disease. But many countries are struggling to achieve that. Most of the measles cases have been found in countries where immunisation has dipped below this threshold and the infection is endemic - France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine.

3-15-17 See how bacterial blood infections in young kids plummeted after vaccines
See how bacterial blood infections in young kids plummeted after vaccines
Newcomer pneumococcal vaccines have led to huge reductions in blood infections among young children. To celebrate birthdays, my 2- and 4-year-old party animals got vaccinated. Measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough for the older one (thankfully combined into just two shots), and hepatitis A for the younger. Funnily enough, there were no tears. Just before the shots, we were talking about the tiny bits of harmless germs that would now be inside their bodies, teaching their immune systems how to fight off the harmful germs and keep their bodies healthy. I suspect my girls got caught up in the excitement and forgot to be scared. As I watched the vaccine needles go in, I was grateful for these medical marvels that clearly save lives. Yet the topic has become fraught for worried parents who want to keep their kids healthy. Celebrities, politicians and even some pediatricians argue that children today get too many vaccines too quickly, with potentially dangerous additives. Those fears have led to reductions in the number of kids who are vaccinated, and along with it, a resurgence of measles and other diseases that were previously kept in check. Doctors and scientists try to reduce those fears with good, hard data that show vaccines are absolutely some of the safest and most important tools we have to keep children healthy. A study published online March 10 in Pediatrics shows a particularly compelling piece of data on the impact of vaccines.

3-15-17 Australia to ban unvaccinated children from preschool
Australia to ban unvaccinated children from preschool
The government wants 95 per cent of Australian children vaccinated – a level that would stop infectious diseases spreading and protect those who can’t be vaccinated. No-jab, no play. So says the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who has announced that unvaccinated children will be barred from attending preschools and daycare centres. Currently, 93 per cent of Australian children receive the standard childhood vaccinations, including those for measles, mumps and rubella, but the government wants to lift this to 95 per cent. This is the level required to stop the spread of infectious disease and to protect children who are too young to be immunised or cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Childcare subsidies have been unavailable to the families of unvaccinated children since January 2016, and a version of the new “no jab, no play” policy is already in place in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Other states and territories only exclude unvaccinated children from preschools during infectious disease outbreaks. The proposed policy is based on Victoria’s model, which is the strictest. It requires all children attending childcare to be fully immunised, unless they have a medical exemption, such as a vaccine allergy.

3-13-17 Australia considers childcare ban on unvaccinated children
Australia considers childcare ban on unvaccinated children
Unvaccinated children would be banned from childcare centres and preschools under an Australian government plan. Some Australian states already have "no jab, no play" laws, but PM Malcolm Turnbull is calling for nationwide legislation. Health groups have supported the push, arguing parents and the community have an obligation to protect children. An Australian Child Health Poll survey of nearly 2,000 parents showed 5% of children were not fully vaccinated. Mr Turnbull said more needed to be done, citing the case of a baby who died from whooping cough. "This is not a theoretical exercise - this is life and death," Mr Turnbull said. "If a parent says, 'I'm not going to vaccinate my child,' they are not simply putting their child at risk, they are putting everybody else's children at risk too." Vaccinating children is not a legal requirement in Australia, but failing to do so makes parents ineligible for childcare rebates. (Webmaster's comment: Isolate unvaccinated children and their families away from the rest of us so they only infect themselves!)

11-3-16 50 years later, vaccines have eliminated some diseases
50 years later, vaccines have eliminated some diseases
Vaccines provide a crucial line of defense against some diseases such as measles and rubella, but other illnesses have frustrated development efforts. More vaccines promised — “The decline of poliomyelitis among more than 350 million people of the world … (offers) a promise of vaccines that will soon be used against other diseases considered hopeless or untreatable until recently. Vaccines against some of the many viruses causing the common cold, as well as those causing rubella, mumps and other diseases are on the way.” — Science News, November 19, 1966. In 1971, vaccines against mumps and rubella were combined with the measles vaccine into one MMR shot. All three diseases are now very rare in the United States. But persistent pockets of lower vaccination rates (spurred in part by the repeatedly debunked belief that vaccines cause autism) have allowed sporadic outbreaks of all three illnesses. A vaccine against the common cold has not yet materialized. Creating one vaccine that protects against the hundred or so strains of rhinoviruses that can cause colds is not easy. But some scientists are giving it a shot, along with vaccines against HIV, Ebola and Zika.

10-11-16 There's a big change coming to the flu vaccine
There's a big change coming to the flu vaccine
r the past eight years, flu shots around the world have contained a virus that was retrieved from a sick person in California in the spring of 2009, in the earliest days of the H1N1 — or swine flu — pandemic. No more. Recently, the World Health Organization recommended that flu vaccine manufacturers swap out the component that is based on that virus with an updated version. It is uncommon for a flu virus to remain in the vaccine for such an extended period as the current one. "A/California had a good run," Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza epidemiologist at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control in Vancouver, said of the virus that is being discarded. The change, which will first come into effect in the flu shots for the 2017 Southern Hemisphere winter, is good news. It's an indication that advances in flu science — particularly relating to monitoring small changes in viruses and figuring out how that evolution dictates who and how many people might get sick in a flu season — may be helping scientists fine-tune flu-fighting strategy.

9-27-16 Measles has been eliminated in the Americas, WHO says
Measles has been eliminated in the Americas, WHO says
The highly infectious disease, which is marked by flat red spots that can cover the body, has been eliminated from the Americas after decades of wide-spread VACCINATION. A half-century after scientists first introduced a vaccine to combat measles, the disease has been eliminated from a swath of the globe stretching from Canada to Chile — and all the countries in between. The region is the first in the world to have eliminated the viral disease, the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization announced September 27. That’s different from eradication, which means an infectious disease has been scrubbed out permanently, worldwide. So far, only smallpox has been eradicated. Though measles outbreaks still crop up occasionally in the Americas (this year 54 people have contracted the disease in the United States), they stem from travelers bringing the virus in from other parts of the world. A home-grown outbreak in the Americas hasn’t occurred since a 2002 outbreak in Venezuela.

9-9-16 Fear of vaccine safety is higher in Europe than in the US
Fear of vaccine safety is higher in Europe than in the US
A survey across 67 countries has found that Europe is the world’s most sceptical region when it comes to vaccines, especially people in France. Europe is the world’s most vaccine-sceptic region. That’s according to a study that has surveyed 66,000 people living in 67 countries about their views on the importance and safety of vaccines. People in France showed the least confidence – 41 per cent of those surveyed said they disagreed that vaccines are safe. The global average was 12 per cent. France was followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, where 36 per cent doubted the safety of vaccines. Russia and Mongolia came next, with 28 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively. Greece, Japan and the Ukraine all recorded a 25 per cent lack of confidence. In the US, 14 per cent of the 1,000 people surveyed disagreed that vaccines are safe, while 86 per cent agree they are important.

9-2-16 Pediatricians push back against anti-vax parents
Pediatricians push back against anti-vax parents
It is “acceptable” for doctors to drop patients who refuse vaccinations on nonmedical grounds, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced in a new policy statement this week. The advice was issued after a survey revealed that 87 percent of pediatricians have dealt with parents who did not want their children to be vaccinated—up from 75 percent a decade ago. Many parents who refuse to have their kids vaccinated believe immunizations can cause autism, a theory that has been thoroughly debunked. Other parents believe vaccines are an unnecessary discomfort for their children. The academy said that doctors should try to persuade hesitant families of the benefits of vaccines, and only exclude them from a practice as a last resort.

9-1-16 Dog vaccine offers hope in China’s fight against rabies
Dog vaccine offers hope in China’s fight against rabies
Scientists in China have found that a rabies vaccine usually given to dogs can also protect livestock. Rabies in domestic cattle and camels, infected by wild dog and fox bites, has been on the rise in north-west China. Because there is no oral vaccine for wild animals in China, it is impossible to prevent this type of spread. A vaccine for large domestic animals is what is needed, the researchers say, but the canine vaccine could provide a stop-gap measure.

8-13-16 What the deadly 1960s rubella outbreak should teach us about the Zika virus
What the deadly 1960s rubella outbreak should teach us about the Zika virus
As the Zika virus continues to sweep through Latin America and begins what appears to be a steady march into the United States, the hunt is on for a vaccine against it. In addition to posing scientific and medical challenges, the development of a Zika vaccine raises social and ethical issues with a twist because of what this vaccine will do and who it is aimed at. In some ways it will be like a vaccine developed almost 50 years ago to fight rubella, a virus that also attacked developing babies. Infection with the Zika virus generally isn't a big deal. Most people don't develop any symptoms. Those who do may have a low-grade fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain, or fatigue that disappears within a week. A small number of people infected with the Zika virus develop Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the immune system attacks nerves, causing pain or partial paralysis. Among women who are pregnant, though, infection with the Zika virus can have devastating consequences for their developing babies. These range from microcephaly, a condition characterized by a small head and impaired brain development, to seizures, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disability. There are strong parallels between Zika and rubella, also known as German measles. An outbreak of rubella rocked the United States in the winter of 1964 and spring of 1965. More than 12 million people were infected with rubella. Like Zika, rubella is generally a minor illness. It causes a distinctive red rash, low fever, and symptoms resembling a bad cold that usually last a few days. For developing babies, however, infection can be a major catastrophe, causing a variety of birth defects, including blindness, deafness, heart damage, cataracts, internal organ damage, and intellectual disability. During that rubella outbreak, more than 20,000 babies were born with congenital rubella syndrome. Without a vaccine, there was nothing their mothers could have done to prevent it. A vaccine against rubella became available in 1969. Since then, this disease has been eradicated in the United States. (Webmaster's comment: We need a vaccine NOW!)

8-12-16 Polio back in Nigeria two years after being wiped out in Africa
Polio back in Nigeria two years after being wiped out in Africa
Just as Africa was due to celebrate the anniversary of its last polio infections, two new cases have set back global efforts to eradicate the virus by 2019. Just as Africa was due to celebrate two polio-free years, it has been announced that the virus has paralysed two children in Nigeria’s Borno state. The decline of polio in Africa is thanks to a huge public health effort. When these two new cases came to light, the continent had been on track to be declared officially polio free in just one year’s time. “The overriding priority now is to rapidly immunise all children around the affected area and ensure no other children succumb,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa. Nigeria previously had a particularly large incidence of polio. As recently as 2012, the country accounted for more than half of all cases globally. But a concerted campaign of immunisation meant that the country was able last month to celebrate two years without a new case. (Webmaster's comment: I wonder what all those anti-vaccination Twits have to say about the polio vaccine. Maybe they'd like to go back to crippled children by the many thousands every year in the United States.)

4-17-16 Vaccine switched in 'milestone' towards ending polio
Vaccine switched in 'milestone' towards ending polio
More than 150 countries have begun switching to a different polio vaccine - an important milestone towards polio eradication, health campaigners say. The new vaccine will target the two remaining strains of the virus under a switchover 18 months in the planning. There were just 74 cases of the paralysing disease in 2015 and there have been 10 so far this year. (Webmaster's comment: Thanks to polio vaccine this disease has almost been eradicated. No thanks to vaccine deniers other diseases have not.)

4-1-16 Pulling ‘Vaxxed’ still doesn’t retract vaccine misconceptions
Pulling ‘Vaxxed’ still doesn’t retract vaccine misconceptions
The Tribeca Film Festival and its cofounder Robert De Niro came under intense fire last week for their decision to screen Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, a film directed by disgraced gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield. If Wakefield’s name doesn’t ring a bell, his legacy is surely familiar: his fraudulent 1998 study claiming to find a link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine kicked off a major public health scare that’s had lasting, devastating consequences. While the purported link between autism and vaccines has been repeatedly debunked, the link lives on within the antivaccination movement. As a result of the backlash against vaccines, cases of the virtually eliminated measles are on the rise, as are outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases.

4-1-16 Robert De Niro pulled the anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed
Robert De Niro pulled the anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed
Amid a storm of controversy, Robert De Niro pulled the anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe from his Tribeca Film Festival. The film accuses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of covering up an alleged—and repeatedly debunked—link between child vaccinations and rising autism rates. De Niro, who has an autistic child, had defended screening the film “to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family.” But he said, after reviewing the film, “We do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.” The film was harshly criticized by doctors and scientists for promoting the myth that autism is caused by vaccination, which has driven down vaccination rates to the point where diseases like measles and whooping cough are making a comeback.

3-27-16 Vaxxed: Tribeca festival withdraws MMR film
Vaxxed: Tribeca festival withdraws MMR film
New York's Tribeca Film Festival will not show Vaxxed, a controversial film about the MMR vaccine, its founder Robert De Niro says. As recently as Friday, Mr De Niro stood by his decision to include the film by anti-vaccination activist Andrew Wakefield in next month's festival. The link the film makes between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism has been widely discredited. "We have concerns with certain things in this film," said Mr De Niro. Mr De Niro, who has a child with autism, said he had hoped the film would provide the opportunity for discussion of the issue. But after reviewing the film with festival organisers and scientists, he said: "We do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for." (Webmaster's comment: People have every right to reject promoting the blatant lies of the anti-vaccination advocates. There has only been a single published scientific article in support of the vaccine-autism link and that article was retracted by the publisher many years ago. And the author of the article was found guilty of fraud 15 years ago!)

2-22-16 Vaccine halves cancer-causing HPV infections in US teen girls
Vaccine halves cancer-causing HPV infections in US teen girls
The number of people infected with the virus, which causes most cases of cervical cancer, has fallen dramatically since the vaccine's introduction. Vaccination against human papilloma virus has more than halved the number of HPV infections in the US – the leading cause of cervical cancer – despite its relatively low uptake in the country. The growing body of evidence that HPV vaccination works may convince more countries to give the vaccine to teenage boys, as HPV also causes cancers of the mouth, throat and anus, as well as genital warts. “It supports the case to strive for as much coverage as possible,” says Johannes Bogaards of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment at Bilthoven in the Netherlands, who wasn’t involved in the latest study. The vaccine, called Gardasil, was designed to prevent cervical cancer. It works against four strains of HPV, which cause almost all cases of this type of cancer. (Webmaster's comment: So much for vaccine denials.)

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