Aug 31, 2016

Doctor speaks out against claims that autism is linked to vaccines

 More Texas parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children, but the town of Eagle Lake is bucking that trend. Part of the vaccination success can be linked to a doctor who relies on science and his own personal story.

Dr. Russell Thomas Jr. practices medicine in his hometown of Eagle Lake. When he was a boy, he never received the polio vaccine.
"Unfortunately I wasn't included in the last test group," said Thomas.
Two years later he was diagnosed with polio, a moment that he says changed his life forever. 
"It's not just an idea with me, it's not just a concept," said Thomas. "I've lived the outcome of not getting a vaccine, and it's not where I want to be."

He underwent 14 surgeries growing up, and his legs were significantly weakened. Without braces, it's tough to walk.
Dr. Thomas says all of it  could have been prevented with a vaccine.

"If I had the choice between the risks of the vaccine, even early primitive vaccines, I think I would have taken the chance," said Thomas. "I would have gotten that vaccine of my own choice."

Dr. Thomas was awarded the 2014-2015 Texas Family Physician of the Year. He is outspoken when it comes to defending vaccines and encouraging parents to immunize their children.

"My patients are able to see anytime they walk into my office what happens when you don't get a vaccine sometimes," said Thomas.

Now a Facebook video by Bexar County District Attorney Nico Lahood, coupled with the film "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe" is igniting the immunization debate across Texas again.

"We had a very different child after the round of vaccines," said Lahood. "So no one is going to tell my child was born with autism, because he was not."

Thomas says CDC studies clearly show there is no link to vaccines and autism. When families come in with concerns, he points to science and his own personal story.

"Any chance I get, I share that story," said Thomas. "When I have kids concerned about needles or getting the shots, I just tap my brace. I had 14 surgeries. I have to wear a brace. A small shot is a small price to pay to not go through that."

In Eagle Lake, the vaccine exemption rate sits at zero percent. Although the exemption rate is only .62 percent. in Harris County, this number has doubled in the last five years.
Thomas hopes that trend doesn't continue because it may make community more vulnerable to outbreaks.

"That's all we can do, just keep telling the truth, and backing it up with evidence," said Thomas. "And I hope that at the end, that those that are scared realize they're basing their fear on unfounded things.

There are 5.5 million students in schools in Texas, slightly less than 45,000 right now have opted out of vaccinations. This number has continued to rise steadily since 2003. 

Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

Aug 30, 2016

Researchers find new way to beat antibiotic-resistant infections

Researchers have discovered a way to test bacteria for drug resistance more rapidly. It’s a potentially life-saving method that will enable doctors to find and attack bacterial infections quickly, instead of waiting for a day or more to find out to which drugs a patient might be resistant. More than 2 million people develop drug-resistant infections every year, according to Scientific American, and 23,000 people die from those infections, due in part to an inability to diagnose and treat the infections quickly and effectively. The current method for testing bacteria for resistance is to “take a sample from the wound, blood, or urine” and expose it to a variety of drugs. It typically takes 16 to 20 hours to grow the bacteria and test it.
New engineering innovations are working to sidestep the need to grow the bacteria, speeding up the diagnostic process as a whole. Researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea took a novel approach that involves observing how the structure of individual bacterial cells changes in response to such antibiotic exposure, and only takes three to four hours. This rapid test could help clinicians to identify the best antibiotic more quickly, and switch patients over to the correct treatment course,” the study’s lead author Sunghoon Kwon wrote in an email to
According to the Center for Disease Controlantibiotic resistance occurs when “commercial antibiotics kill good bacteria that protect the body from infection alongside bacteria that cause illness—setting the stage for drug-resistant bacteria to flourish and take over.” The new method could be a step in the right direction, according to Stuart Levy, the director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at Tufts University. “The ability to determine changes in the structure of the single cell makes this unique among rapid-type analyses and it is an optimistic sign that this could be the beginning of a new area of study,” Levy said.
Photos by Flickr/NIAID

Aug 28, 2016

Polio New Zealand is planning to reach into the Pacific after discovering survivors needing help.

Help needed for Pacific survivors of Polio
The disease was stamped out in the region years ago, but those who contracted it are still struggling.
The disease was stamped out in the region years ago, but those who contracted it are still struggling.
Source: ONE News
The disease has been stamped out in the region but it's effects are still being felt decades later.
Every step means pain for polio survivor Reggie Kumar who has worn the same braces for more than 40 years. 
They barely work, broken and repaired too many times and leaving scars. 
"There's all sorts of marks here on my legs," said Mr Kumar. 
"I wasn't allowed to touch anyone or mix with anyone for four years."
Polio New Zealand heard Mr Kumar's story and along with QE Health in Rotorua have brought him to New Zealand to be refitted. 
"Yes I am going to be a new man," said Mr Kumar. 
After taking his first steps in his new brace Mr Kumar said, "this looks awesome, I feel awesome."
He could not believe the difference. 
Polio New Zealand believe Mr Kumar's case is just the tip of the iceberg.
"It's estimated there are up to 10,000 polio survivors here in New Zealand... But it's not known how many there are in the the Pacific," said Gordon Jackman from Polio New Zealand. "A lack of resources in the region means that those affected are likely not to be getting the help they need."
"There isn't the infrastructure in terms of footwear or braces or medical expertise which is going to help those people so really we would like to do something about that," said Mr Jackman.
For Mr Kumar it is about new beginnings.
"I am 60 now.. he later part of my life is going to be an exciting one."
When he gets home to Fiji he wants to learn to ride a bike, and live the childhood dream he never had. 

Aug 26, 2016

Polio: In the Shadow of Fear

  • by Tom Adams Andover Historical Society

    My name is poliomyelitis
    I cause a disease which you call infantile paralysis
    I consider myself quite an artist – sort of a sculptor
    I specialize in the grotesque, twisting and deforming human bodies
    That’s why I’m called “The Crippler”
    It was an invisible enemy. No one knew where it came from or why it only haunted the warm summer months. It struck with little or no warning. For some, the symptoms were exhaustion, a slight cold coming on, a hint of muscle stiffness – symptoms that often vanished as quickly as they came. For all too many others, polio took on a dark, permanent, and life-altering grip.
    Poliomyelitis has plagued mankind for thousands of years, as far back as ancient Egypt. Outbreaks were recorded in Norway in 1868 and again in Sweden in 1881. One of the earliest recorded outbreaks in North America occurred in Vermont in 1894. It was the 1916 epidemic, however, that cast a shadow of fear. The 27,000 cases of polio reported in 26 states between that June and December resulted in 6,000 deaths – 2,343 were children, 80 percent under the age of five.
    The wagons quickly circled. Sunday schools were closed, ferry service curtailed, and travelers were stopped at designated city limits and issued temporary passes. Then, as suddenly as the disease appeared, it waned with the first frost. The summer, however, had been a killer. Here in Andover, the first two cases of polio were diagnosed. From that summer on, not a single year passed without an epidemic.
    No one knew how polio spread. Fear and isolation became the watchwords. Frightened parents brought their ailing children to crowded doctors’ offices and overwhelmed hospitals. Public drinking fountains were turned off, swimming pools closed and children were confined to their homes. Events were cancelled, camps and schools  shut down, even draft inductions were suspended. All these measures worked for influenza and other major health outbreaks. They did not work for polio. The outbreaks continued. Andover reported 1,503 cases in 1918 with 25 deaths. In 1927, Andover had 8 cases; 7 in 1935 and none from 1936 to 1940. A town health official commented that “…our percentage is remarkably low…” when compared to statewide and regional statistics.
    By the 1950s, the public had been alerted through mass media about what steps to take to avoid polio. Public service announcements aired on radio, television, in newspapers, and in short films played in local movie houses. 
    In July of 1952, the Andover Townsman urged caution - "Avoid fatigue from work or play; don't get chilled; don't swim too long in cold water nor sit around in wet clothes; don't mix unnecessarily with new groups; don't take children out of camp where there is good health supervision; watch closely for signs of illness . . . headache, fever, sore muscles, stiff neck or back, trouble breathing or swallowing. Put a sick person to bed at once, away from others, and call your doctor. Follow his advice." It was advice passionately followed. Yet in 1952, a record 57,628 cases of polio erupted in the United States marking its worst recorded epidemic. In all, 3,145 people, including 1,873 children, died.
    In all, 1.4 million people in the U. S. survived polio. The occurrence of polio has decreased dramatically in the global effort to eradicate the disease. The World Health Organization estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 and just 74 in 2015. Yet the disease continues to haunt its survivors. An estimated 70% have developed post-polio syndrome - a weakness in previously unaffected muscles often accompanied by fatigue, pain and difficulty swallowing and breathing. For those afflicted, The Crippler, remains.

    Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

    Aug 25, 2016

    Polio is back in Nigeria, and the next vaccination campaign may have a surprising consequence

    Polio is back in Nigeria,

     and the next vaccination

    campaign may have a surprising

    In early August, Nigeria announced new cases of wild poliovirus, two years after the country’s last reported case. This was a setback for the Nigerian government as well as the global health community, which has invested $14 billion over the past three decades to wipe out polio.
    Both of Nigeria’s new cases occurred in Borno state, previously a Boko Haram stronghold, where vaccinators have had limited access. The government is intensifying its vaccination campaign, pledging six rounds of vaccination over the coming months to help meet its high-profile public commitment to polio eradication.
    Polio vaccination efforts create opportunities for accountability
    While the cases of polio are unfortunate, the experiences of communities in other parts of northern Nigeria suggest that intense efforts to eradicate polio could be an unprecedented opportunity for Borno residents to gain a political voice.
    We detail this process in our research paper. We found that polio vaccination campaigns elsewhere in Nigeria empowered communities to get the government to pave roads, electrify villages and fix dilapidated schools.
    Local officials, who must meet strict vaccination coverage targets, then come under intense pressure from state and national polio campaign coordinators to resolve the community’s resistance. Often, local officials make concessions to address community demands.
    These instances of block rejection represent nascent bargaining processes between the state and citizens. Accordingly, we term the process opportunistic accountability. And it plays out frequently in Nigeria.
    In Giwa local government in Kaduna state, over a four-month period, we documented 30 instances of block rejection. One youth leader organized his community’s noncompliance activities with the goal of getting the local health clinic roof repaired. He told us: “It might be possible we won’t be protected from polio due to block rejection. We admit and concur with the polio campaign but [we are] also concerned with the issues affecting our community.” He added that, “in this whole context of health services [our priority has to be] availability of health service facilities. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t want the polio vaccine.”
    Citizens recognize the opportunity for bargaining
    This youth leader and other village leaders recognize the opportunity polio vaccinations afford them to speak to and bargain with local politicians. Vaccination campaigns are intense efforts — vaccinators often visit remote villages more than four times each year. In a country with extremely limited public services, this frequency alerts citizens to the value the state places on vaccine coverage. “Seeing the opportunity of the vaccination campaign, we decided to take advantage of it,” one village leader said. His village collectively refused vaccination for six months, relenting only when they got electricity.
    The government takes note of these block rejection cases. Elected officials, even powerful governors, negotiate personally with these communities. Today, polio vaccination is often accompanied by servicescitizens urgently demand, such as malaria medication. While news coverage generally frames these services as a moral obligation, many were introduced primarily to encourage vaccination uptake, preempting the bargaining process. This pattern is striking evidence of a nascent social contract between the state and its citizens, in the same way that providing public services encourages tax compliance.
    Implications for the re-intensification of the vaccination campaign
    In Borno, where some analysts suggest government neglect was one of the underlying causes of the Boko Haram crisis, this new opportunity to keep the government engaged in communities could make a huge difference in citizens’ lives. Some villages may get electricity. Local roads may be improved. But, most crucially, by empowering communities to hold the attention of government, the vacuum of authority that incubated Boko Haram may be overcome.
    Eradicating polio in Nigeria may prove both more challenging and more costly because of citizens’ opportunistic use of political agency. But this process may also support real improvements in government accountability in the least accountable places.

    Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

    Aug 24, 2016

    FDA cancels registration of oral polio vaccines

     Friday, August 19, 2016 

    THE Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered the cancellation of registration of all trivalent Oral Polio Vaccines (tOPV) present in the market as part of the comprehensive polio endgame strategy adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
    Based on FDA Advisory No. 2016-087, they have already cancelled the Certificates of Product Registration (CPRs) of four brands of tOPVs present in the market.
    The four are Live Attenuated Trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (Sabin Strains) with brand name Polioral Trivalent Vaccine; Live Attenuated Trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine with brand name Opvero; Oral Poliomyelitis Vaccine Type 1,2,3 with brand name Opvero; and Live Attenuated Trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine.
    “The withdrawal from the market of the abovementioned vaccines [has] already started,” said the FDA.
    According to the FDA, the cancellation of registration is spurred by the decision of the WHO to call for the removal of all oral polio vaccines (OPVs) in a phased manner, from both routine programmes and campaigns, to minimize the risk of new polio cases.
    It aims to complete the interruption of wild poliovirus transmission globally and more rapidly detect and interrupt any new outbreaks due to vaccine-derived polio viruses.
    In turn, the Department of Health (DOH) issued Department Memorandum (DM) No. 2016-0146, which states that all health facilities nationwide should stop using tOPV and dispose all remaining stocks of tOPV.
    “Ongoing use of tOPV after the switch day may threaten or postpone the global eradication of polio,” said the DOH memorandum.
    The FDA, then, called on all concerned health workers and establishments to stop prescribing, dispensing, and using any of the mentioned tOPVs.
    All Officers of the Field Regulatory Operations Office (FROO) of the FDA are also directed to make sure that the concerned vaccines are withdrawn from the market. (HDT/Sunnex)
    Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

    Aug 22, 2016

    Treatable Causes of Dementia

    By: , Posted on: August 9, 2016
    encyclopedia of neurological sciences
    Dementia is an acquired progressive cognitive impairment leading to interference with daily activities. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly, dementia can be caused by several other neurodegenerative etiologies as well as vascular, infectious, toxic, metabolic, traumatic, neoplastic, or inflammatory causes.
    The term dementia is derived from the Latin de (out of), men (mind), and tia (state of) and literally refers to a state of being out of one’s mind. When used currently, it refers to an acquired cognitive impairment involving multiple domains of function in the absence of a clouding of consciousness. During the past two decades, the concept of dementia has evolved from a unitary disease that describes a global cognitive impairment to its present use as an umbrella term for a number of distinctive disease entities. The recent development of symptomatic treatment options and the possibility of future treatments aimed at halting or reversing the disease processes have highlighted the importance of early and accurate diagnosis of specific dementia syndromes.
    Although a large number of neurological diseases can cause dementia (Table 1), many of these are very rare. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and vascular dementia account for most cases, especially in elderly populations. The relative frequencies of different dementia diagnoses are illustrated in Figure 1.
    able 1
    Figure 1. Relative frequencies of different dementia frequencies in patients: (a) younger than 65 years old and (b) older than 65 years old. AD, Alzheimer's disease; DLB, dementia with Lewy bodies; FTD, frontotemporal dementia; VaD, vascular dementia. Adapted with permission from Galton CJ and Hodges JR (1999) The spectrum of dementia and its treatment. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London 33: 234–239.
    Figure 1.
    Relative frequencies of different dementia frequencies in patients: (a) younger than 65 years old and (b) older than 65 years old. AD, Alzheimer’s disease; DLB, dementia with Lewy bodies; FTD, frontotemporal dementia; VaD, vascular dementia.
    Adapted with permission from Galton CJ and Hodges JR (1999) The spectrum of dementia and its treatment. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London 33: 234–239.
    The most commonly used general diagnostic criteria for dementia are those proposed by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV). These criteria define dementia as a syndrome consisting of progressive impairment in two or more areas of cognition (i.e., memory, language, visuospatial, reasoning and problem solving, and behavior) sufficient to interfere with work, social function, or relationships in the absence of delirium or major nonorganic psychiatric disorders. Below is a discussion for the possible treatable causes of dementia.

    Treatable Causes of Dementia

    Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
    Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) often presents with the classical triad of cognitive impairment, urinary incontinence, and gait apraxia with associated significant ventricular enlargement out of proportion with cortical atrophy on imaging studies. The cognitive profile is one of marked slowing, and the apraxia is virtually confined to gait with the characteristic glued-to-the-floor ‘magnetic’ gait. The etiology in many cases is unclear, although some are secondary to head injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, or meningitis. Although many patients with NPH respond to removal of cerebrospinal fluid at lumbar puncture, predicting which patients will respond to ventricular shunting procedures is far from reliable with MRI, and intracranial pressure monitoring fails to reliably predict outcome.
    Chronic Subdural Hematoma
    Chronic subdurals often present subacutely with a fluctuating level of consciousness, symptoms of increased intracranial pressure, and often focal signs. They commonly occur in individuals prone to falls, such as alcoholics, the elderly, and those with coexistent neurological conditions. Treatment is by surgical evacuation of the hematoma, although many recur.
    Metabolic and Endocrine Disturbance
    Many metabolic disturbances, such as hyponatremia, renal, or hepatic failure, may cause cognitive symptoms, although the features are usually more typical of delirium than dementia. Disease of the thyroid is common, especially in the elderly population, but dementia due to hypothyroidism is rare and most reported cases have been shown to have developed AD on follow-up. More commonly, hypothyroidism will present with cognitive symptoms associated with depression and psychomotor retardation.
    Autoimmune Encephalopathies
    There is increasing awareness of a group of inflammatory cognitive disorders known as autoimmune encephalopathies. These have gone by various other names including nonvasculitic autoimmune inflammatory meningoencephalitis. One such condition is Hashimoto’s encephalopathy, a condition of cognitive dysfunction and seizures associated with high concentrations of antithyroid antibodies, often with normal or near normal thyroid function. Other antibody-mediated encephalopathies may be paraneoplastic, or associated with an underlying malignancy.
    Deficiency States
    Vitamin B12 deficiency is the most commonly encountered deficiency state and is usually associated with pernicious anemia. The most frequent neurological features are spinal cord dorsal column damage and peripheral neuropathy. Cognitive features are less common and usually present as hypoactive delirium, confusion, or psychomotor retardation rather than dementia. Replacing B12, especially if the duration of symptoms is short, can improve cognitive deficits at least in part.
    Infection of the central nervous system by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is probably the most common cause of dementia in the young. Also known as the acquired immune deficiency syndrome dementia complex, HIV-associated dementia presents as a subcortical dementia with psychomotor slowing, memory disturbance, apathy, withdrawal, and associated spastic gait disorder and hyperreflexia. Because it is usually a late manifestation of HIV infection at a stage when opportunistic infection or neoplasms may be prevalent, investigation should be directed at excluding focal lesions such as toxoplasmosis, cryptococcal meningitis, cytomegalovirus encephalitis, diffuse infiltration by lymphoma, and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Treatment with antiretroviral agents has been shown to improve cognitive deficits.
    This excerpt was taken from the chapter Dementia in the article by D. C. Perry from the Multi-Volume Reference Work Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences (Second Edition). The easy-to-use ‘encyclopedic-dictionary’ format of this four-volume set features alphabetic entries, extensive cross-referencing, and a thorough index for quick reference. The wealth of information provided makes this reference work a trusted source of valuable information for a wide range of researchers, from undergraduate students to academic researchers.

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