Just a quick one today. Polio was a hugely disabling worldwide disease. Now with the help of the polio vaccine, we are on the cusp of seeing its eradication. This article gives a first-hand account of what it was like to live in a world with rampant polio: the fear, the segregation, the children struck down and sometimes permenantly disfigured. Really interesting stuff.
By Photo Credit: Content Providers: CDC/Charles Farmer [Public domain
Polio: The deadly summer of 1956 by Patrick Cokburn (1999) – http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/polio-the-deadly-summer-of-1956-2117253.html
Thomas and I are still pretty new to blogging and certainly newer still to things like Blogging Carnivals but despite this I threw a few posts into an application process for Scientia Pro Publica which is currently being hosted by Traversing the Razor and a couple landed! Wikipedia says:
A blog carnival is a type of blog event. It is similar to a magazine, in that it is dedicated to a particular topic, and is published on a regular schedule, often weekly or monthly. Each edition of a blog carnival is in the form of a blog article that contains permalinks to other blog articles on the particular topic.
We are very proud to see our posts get selected for things like this and it is an honor to be selected.
Check out the carnival here and the posts selected from us here and here.
In the last of my vaccine sub-series (the others can be found here, here, here and here) I wanted to talk about why vaccines trump therapeutics every time or at least just a few reasons why.
Something I hear occasionally when talking about vaccines is that they are not required as we have drugs to deal with sickness. It’s true we have developed everything from cold and flu meds to antibiotics and chemotherapy but vaccines are still, in my opinion, the greatest advancement in public health after improved sanitation. Continue reading
I’ve been on a conference, so I haven’t had time to write a new article this week. Instead, you get sloppy seconds this week. This article was previously published in On Dit (2006) as my first public article. Still carries on the series though. Oh, and happy birthday, Disease of the Week!
Smallpox is a now-eradicated disease that is caused by the variola virus. There are two main types of small pox: variola major, the typical case of smallpox that killed up to 30% of those infected with it; and variola minor, which was a less deadly, but rarer form, leading to deaths in around 1% of those infected. Two extremely rare forms also existed: haemorrhagic and flat smallpox, both of which are basically death sentences. Variola major is the primary focus of my story today.
Eradication through vaccination is possible, as the case of smallpox has shown (Photo by the American Federal Government via the Public Health Images Library (PHIL))
Waaaaaay back in the first post of my sub series on vaccines I said I would cover vaccine styles, how they work (and Pt. 2) and why we can’t rely on therapeutics alone. I promise I’ll get to the last one at some point but after a couple of weeks writing about vaccines something occurred to me that I hadn’t really thought about before, what is actually in a vaccine? Continue reading
Australia seems to have pulled its finger out in a big way and contributed $60 million ($58 million US) to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation! Thus doubles Australia’s previous commitment and puts us up amongst the highest level contributors worldwide.
The pledge comes as Alliance members meet in New York to discuss the GAVI Alliance’s funding plans regarding its 2010-2015 programs. During that time GAVI hope to vaccinate 240 million children and in the process prevent 4.2 million deaths, primarily in the developing world.
The Australian pledge tops up the previous pledge agreement to help the GAVI Alliance reach its funding goal of $6.5 billion. At this stage the fundrasing effort leaves GAVI $4.3 billion short but more pledges are expected to come in over the next few years.
GAVI’s aims of childhood vaccination are targeted at the worlds 2 largest killers of children under 5 years of age; pneumonia and diarrhoea which together account for nearly 40% of all deaths in children under 5.
For more info check out the GAVI Alliance website here.
Continuing on with our series of vaccine-preventable disease, this week I was honoured to get an E-mail interview with Emeritus Professor Christopher Burrell. Chris has a CV longer than my arm: Officer of the Order of Australia, Head of the Infectious Disesase Laboratories at the IMVS, Professor of Virology at the University of Adelaide, co-founder and musical director of the Coriole Music Festival… the list goes on and on. As my own personal connection, he was the PhD supervisor of my PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Allison Jilbert.
Me and Chris Burrell (Photo taken by Dr. Chris Wong)
He was also one of the members of the team that investigated the 1969-70 hepatitis outbreak in Edinburgh at the Royal Infirmary and Western General Hospital. The outbreak coincided with the opening of a new unit, the Maintenance Hemodialysis Unit. Forty-four people came down with illness during the outbreak. Seven health care workers and four patients died from liver failure. It later gained noteriety in the general press and public with much damning of the hospital staff.
The following is a transcript of my E-mail interview with Chris Burrell:
In my last post I spoke about how vaccines work from the point of view of the person receiving the jab or pill. In that case we were talking about immunological memory but vaccines also work in another very important way from the point of view of the community and it is referred to as ‘herd immunity’. Continue reading
To herald in our second (maybe third?) article of our series on vaccine-preventable diseases, China has recently started their massive measles vaccination program. They’re looking to vaccinate 100 million children who may have missed their last shot. You may have had measles as a kid and now wonder why the Chinese are spending $23 million USD to flush out this disease.
Uh, I couldn't find any specific pictures to depict measles, so I'll continue my habit of posting pictures of dogs (Grommit, picture taken by Sally Mattner)
To start with, measles is one of the most contagious diseases we know of… Continue reading
Some people have commented to me in person (and online) that I was a little brash in calling those violently opposed vaccinations as evil or ignorant. Also, that I might be completely shutting off dialogue and having people immediately list me as one of those pro-vaccination whores. I thought about this for a long time and concluded that they might be correct. But here’s why I said it:
My father and his sister in the kitchen/dining room/laundry of the house they grew up in (Picture taken by Thomas Tu)
My parents were Vietnamese immigrants, who came over to Australia during the Vietnam war. Some of my family have chronic hepatitis B (a vaccine-preventable disease) and may very well die of it. This is not surprising with the >20% prevalence of HBV infections in South East Asia. My family have seen a country without a strong vaccination or medical infrastructure; so when they came to Australia, they readily accepted the help and support of a developed medical program. This is what I want to emphasise in this series. Continue reading