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Vintage Diseases Making a Comeback 403

An anonymous reader writes "MSNBC has a piece on a recent resurgence in some old-timey diseases. Mumps, Whooping Cough, and Rickets are making a comeback, back in style like it's 1955." From the article: "Public-health officials certainly weren't expecting to get 'bitten' by mumps this year. Although the virus has been circulating in British kids since 2000, it hadn't caused much trouble in the United States since an outbreak in Kansas 18 years ago. The Midwest is the epicenter again, but the victims are primarily college students, not children. Once a childhood disease, the virus has now taken hold in university towns. That's partly because crowded dorms and cafeterias are breeding grounds for germs that are spread by sneezing and coughing."
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Vintage Diseases Making a Comeback

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  • Innoculations? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:33PM (#15233584)
    Isn't MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) a standard set of vacines everyone gets before they go into school? How long are those supposed to be effective?

    In a side note: the girl sitting next to me right now (at work) was gone with the mumps a couple weeks ago.
    • Re:Innoculations? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NoTheory ( 580275 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:38PM (#15233598)
      It's not clear. NPR had a story discussing this last week. The outbreak is wide enough that people are beginning to wonder if there's a hole in the efficacy of the MMR vaccines. Normally the vaccine is inneffective in 10% of the population, but the way it's spreading makes it seem like there's a wider problem of some sort.

      I also wonder if it could have been that there were bad batches of vaccine or something. Then again, i don't know what the demographic background of the people effected is. If it's people from all over the country (a possibility with college students) then the cause will be different if it's just people from a cluster of states in the mid-west.
      • Re:Innoculations? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PhysicsPhil ( 880677 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:48PM (#15233638)

        It's not clear. NPR had a story discussing this last week. The outbreak is wide enough that people are beginning to wonder if there's a hole in the efficacy of the MMR vaccines. Normally the vaccine is inneffective in 10% of the population, but the way it's spreading makes it seem like there's a wider problem of some sort.

        I also wonder if it could have been that there were bad batches of vaccine or something. Then again, i don't know what the demographic background of the people effected is. If it's people from all over the country (a possibility with college students) then the cause will be different if it's just people from a cluster of states in the mid-west.

        The article and other news outlets are blaming it on two major factors. The mumps-measles-rubella vaccine shifted from a one-dose variety to a two-dose in the late 1980s. Many people didn't get the second dose, leading to a lowered immunity. That same generation are now going to school and meeting other susceptible people. Instant outbreak.

        Also there was a medical study that indicated some links between the vaccin and autism some time ago. The claim was largely retracted, but it was scary enough that some families didn't have their children vaccinated.

        What does somewhat surprise me is the university students getting this disease. Don't the universities require proof of up-to-date innoculations for incoming students?

        • It wasn't too long ago I was applying to school, and only one school to which I applied required medical records to show proof of vaccination. I did not have to provide proof to my eventual school after enrolling either. Though, I am properly vaccinated and even have two non-mandatory vaccinations. Another aside, I think there has also been talk about needing to give another booster shot for MMR.
        • Re:Innoculations? (Score:5, Informative)

          by masdog ( 794316 ) <> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @07:11PM (#15233966)
          The link between vaccines and autism had to do with a preservative that included mercury in it. This has been replaced with a non-mercury preservative, and I believe most of those batches have since been used or replaced.
          • The link between vaccines and autism had to do with a preservative that included mercury in it. This has been replaced with a non-mercury preservative, and I believe most of those batches have since been used or replaced.

            They didn't just replace them. They sold them to the military at half the price :'(
            • They didn't just replace them. They sold them to the military at half the price :'(
              So what??
              1. This study was eventually invalidated and the link is still up in the air. As a caution they took them off the market.
              2. Mercury has a much larger effect on infant than adults (obviously) a small dose of mercury (there is an extremly small amount in one dose akin to eating a few fish) to an adult should have no effect whatsoever.
          • Not quite (Score:3, Interesting)

            by gr8_phk ( 621180 )
            "The link between vaccines and autism had to do with a preservative that included mercury in it. This has been replaced with a non-mercury preservative, and I believe most of those batches have since been used or replaced."

            That was one concern for many vaccines. Another theory had to do with the combination of vaccines (Mumps in particular) allowing other things to get through the gut and the blood-brain barrier. Some places used a separate Mumps and MR instead of the tripple MMR.

            What's disturbing to me

        • Re:Innoculations? (Score:5, Informative)

          by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @07:11PM (#15233967) Journal
          I don't recall hearing about autism claims directly related to the MMR vaccine, but I do recall hearing a bunch of noise about Thimerosal.

          Thimerosal is a preservative (used since the 1930's) to increase the shelf life of vaccines. It has ethylmercury in it, which is where the possible link to autism came from.

          According to the CDC []: "Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella (chickenpox), and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) have never contained thimerosal."

          Even though the CDC says there doesn't seem to be anything to worry about (most vaccines have no Thimerosal in 'em), you can ask for vaccinations without the Thimerosal preservative. AFAIK, the only vaccine that still uses it is the flu vaccine.
          • Here in the UK the possible link between the MMR jab and autism was all over the press a few years ago, and is still mentioned now and again as yet another study proves or disproves it. Uncomfortably enough, the stoyr was at its height around the time we had to get our daughter vaccinated. After some soul-searching, we went ahead with it, with (as far as we can tell) no ill effects.

            I don't recall the supposed link being blamed on anything but the vaccine itself; certainly, when people were calling for separ
        • by Errandboy of Doom ( 917941 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @07:56PM (#15234124) Homepage
          I'm a law student at the University of Kansas, where the outbreak hit a few weeks ago.

          The outbreak hit despite the school's immunization policy [], which has always required proof of two vaccinations against MMR.

          It would seem, as a previous commenter suggests, and as some news reports corroborate, that the outbreak is affecting those already vaccinated.

          Most of the current cases have been among people who were vaccinated. But that doesn't mean the vaccine has become less effective, Seward said.
          No vaccine is capable of protecting everyone who receives it, she said. Five percent to 10 percent of people vaccinated for the mumps will fail to gain immunity.
          These are probably the people who are becoming ill.
          "The mumps vaccine is still protecting huge numbers of people," Seward said. "We would expect thousands of people to get sick if there wasn't good immunity in the community."
          -The Kansas City Star []
          • It was trivial to get an immunization waiver at my state college in California. I wouldn't be surprised if it was equally easy in other colleges across the country. As I recall, all I needed to do was say, "I have religious objections to immunizations." After that, the health center staff handed me a form, I signed it and the college never bothered me again about the issue. I was fairly certain that I'd had the proper immunizations as a child, but I just didn't want to spend hours and hours hunting down
      • Re:Innoculations? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by bcmm ( 768152 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:48PM (#15233641)
        There is also the problem of people avoiding the vaccine because of the autism scare. I've heard teenagers refusing school MMR vaccinations because of it, because no one has explained to them that they are too old to "catch autism" from the jab.
        • Re:Innoculations? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bcmm ( 768152 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:52PM (#15233657)
          Pressed submit too soon...

          A population is considered protected if greater than a certain percentage of people are immune, because beyond that point an outbreak will tend to die out as people get better faster than others are infected. If the vaccine fails in 10% of people, it shouldn't really matter. However, worries (and tabloid scares) about side effects lead to too many people refusing the vaccine, which starts to put a lot of people in danger.
        • The immune system is an unstable beast. Get it confused, and it kills or maims you.

          Without the benefit of technology or even neurons, the immune system must somehow learn to attack the right things. Don't destroy the skin. Don't destroy the ear. Destroy the mumps virus. Don't destroy the pancreas. Destroy bacteria in the heart. Keep the intestinal bacteria from getting out, but don't destroy the intestines while doing so.

          Now, you poke this unstable beast. Most likely you get the desired result. There is a d
          • fear mongering (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cahiha ( 873942 )
            The immune system is an unstable beast.

            Insects alone inject so many different proteins into you during your lifetime that if each exposure to a new protein carried a big risk, everybody would have immune system problems. In reality, malfunctions of the immune system tend to be due to specific defects, not some sort of general instability, as you claim.

            A vaccine is only good if the benefit exceeds the risk.

            Except when there are known medical reasons against vaccination, the benefit always exceeds the risk f
      • I live in the area that the mumps outbreak is affecting, and some friends of friends have contracted it. It's mostly affecting college students in and around the University of Iowa. Because the UI is a state school and because the people affected are all roughly the same age, I'd say that a bad batch would be a good possibility. It's also possible that it's just a different strain that has the wrong antigens for the vaccine.
      • Re:Innoculations? (Score:2, Informative)

        a bad batch of vaccines were to blame for a measles outbreak in Texas in 1986-87... I was only 13 at the time, but I don't remember it breaking out nationwide... hundreds of kids 15-16yrs old got it... my brother was one of them, but both my sisters and I were unaffected...

        The thing with the MMR vaccine now is that they suggest a booster at about 18, but it isn't manditory (or even widely known that it is offered, really) so I imagine that is why we are seeing an outbreak among college-age people...
    • A number of issues (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 )
      1. One is that parents are forgetful or not knowledgable. Many parents do not know what is suppose to be done, and with insurance changin all the time, it means that a child can drop through the cracks.
      2. Illegal aliens are afraid to go to the docs, so do not get vaccinated.
      3. Finally, you have the neo-con/far right wing religious types (focus on the family) that believe the gov and science is out to get them. So they do not vacinate, even though it is irresonsible on their part. This was partialy due to the fac
      • you neglected

        4. the New-ager/Far Left wing hippie types that believe the gov and science is out to get them. So they do not vacinate, even though it is irresonsible on their part.

        I keep hearing about "mercury levels" and Thimerosal on the radio from the "organic foods," chiropractic, and "alternative medicine" types that think vaccines are some kind of conspiracy put forth by the eeeevil medical establishment to make you treatably, but not curably ill, so they can continue to make money treating you.
        • Lemme do a quick reality check. How many ppl do I know who are not vaccinating their kids because they are liberal whack-jobs afraid of autism? 0. How many illegal aliens from Mexico (with no health coverage) do I know, about 200. I think the "number of issues" is much like the "number of issues" with the spread of HIV. Yes you could theoretically spread it through toilet seats. How many people do I know who got AIDS that way? 0 More likely it's the young, poor, irresponsible, and needle users...of which I
          • The fact that these outbreaks are college kids in the midwest implies to me that there significant vaccination problems with groups outside of illegal aliens. Do you ever go to Whole Foods? If you do, take a look at some of the literature there sometime. I remember seeing a magazine with a cover story about a pregnant woman who had proudly refused AZT and other AIDS medicine because, i guess, she didn't "believe" in it. Of course, to be fair I guess, the idea that you even might be giving your kid autism is
        • 4. the New-ager/Far Left wing hippie types that believe the gov and science is out to get them. So they do not vacinate, even though it is irresonsible on their part.

          Here's just one problem. Start with a healthy kid. He gets a vaccine. He falls into the small percentage of kids who get the side effects. Maybe he just gets sick. Or has seizures. Or even dies. The problem is that he was healthy, then the parents did what they were mandated to do by the government, and their kid suffered these things and is no
      • And, #4, some parents believe that the thimerosal (a mercury-containing organic compound) that was present in most vaccines (but is now present in only a few - such as inactivated influenza) was responsible for the meteoric rise in autism rates. Thimerosal is a preservative, and the CDC and FDA do not believe it has any connection to autism. However, many parents refuse to vaccine their kids out of the fear that their might be a connection. This is even more likely to be true in families where relatives hav

      • you have the neo-con/far right wing religious types

        To be fair, there are many hippyish/far left wing types and centrist-types who don't vaccinate their kids either, or who choose to use some sort of 'homeopathic' alternative to vaccinations.

        From my perspective, the primary motivation for these parents is the fear over mercury/thimerosal in the vaccines, grouping many vaccines together in a single doctor visit for an infant, etc.

        I find it all pretty scary.

        (My family is all vaccinated)
        • My 2 y.o. daughter is going through all of her shots.

          So far, I know of several ppl who are not going through it because they believe the vaccines are not safe. Interestingly, they will home school and are FOTF types. But they pointed out about the Small Pox and gov. oversight as being their issue (and faith in god).

          But in my close COFs, I know of one person's daughter who is not getting MMR. What is intesting is that she is a bio-staticians for CU med. But her issue is that she believes that natural expo
      • Many parents do not know what is suppose to be done, and with insurance changin all the time, it means that a child can drop through the cracks.

        I think what they perhaps should have done is carpet the floor. Or linoleum. Barring that, put the damn boards closer together.

        I also think it amusing that Kansas was the only place affected 18 years ago. I suppose, in Kansas, neither diseases nor humans evolve?

        Illegal aliens are afraid to go to the docs, so do not get vaccinated.

        Many illegal alien

        • "Required?" No, killing children is never required.

          ALL of the nations ran the small pox program for some time, until it was thought that Small pox had been eradicated. Had they stopped too soon and kids had not had it for some time, then the outbreak would have caused many times more deaths than what happened by running the program as long as they had. In fact, it would have been highly illogical to stop too early, as it would nessicaitate that more ppl die in the future. It does sound cruel, but it has be

      • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @08:24PM (#15234228) Homepage Journal
        pretty much these all boil down to the fact that we are at two generation that have no experience with the deadly impliciation of these childhood illnesses. I suspect that very few people even have a grandparent that has been striken by polio of mumps or cholera.

        It is not that we, at least in the US, do not try to immunize everyone. Every child who attends school must be immunized. No exceptions. I do not believe that health providers, unless the fucked up congress has done something lately, need to ask about anything before giving a shot. These shots are so critical to our public health that we ought to just be giving them away for free to every child. I mean the cost of the shot versus the cost of treating the illness and all. There is no reason to track kids. Just make sure they have shots before putting them in closed groups. Colleges should do the same.

        Again, the issue is people not understanding the security implications. Before vaccine, the number of cases and deaths were measured in thousands every year. Two generations ago Polio paralyzed at least 20,000 people per year, and now we are worried about a few hundrend with autism allegedly caused by the vaccine? Would these kids have been strong enough to survive without the vacine anyway? Sure we should make it as safe as possible, but get some perspective. In the case of mumps, there were a few hundred thousand people a years that got mumps, and perhaps a hundred died. Now the number of cases are a few thousand, with perhaps no one dies. Which world do you want to live in? It is like all thes fanatics wanting a simpler world, but who many woulg give up the air conditioning, car, fast food, non-wood stove, or TV?

        I am sure that the left and right wing wackos will be the first to complain when an outbreak occurs, but it will be their fault. There is no absolute security, but vaccines has certainly seem to make the world an overall safer place. Whether it is good to have children who would have died under normal circumstances live is up for debate, but what is not is that vaccines seem to help us all.

        On a last note, in this case it may be that the virus has outgrown the vaccine, and certainly the overuse of antibiotics and anti-viral agents, especially hand sanitizer, will help create a supervirus that could destroy us all. But vaccines are not there to kiil the virus, just to prepare our bodies for the eventual attack.

        • Two generations ago Polio paralyzed at least 20,000 people per year, and now we are worried about a few hundrend with autism allegedly caused by the vaccine?

          Sure, if by a few hundred you mean 163,773 [] (as of 2003). Or, in annual terms, 26,067 new cases in 2003 alone. Sure, we're talking about allegedly caused by the vaccine, but I think you should at least understand why people can be legitimately worried about this! Personally, I think it's unlikely that the vaccines are related to this explosion in aut

    • Part of the problem is that many parents now associate the significant increase in autism in recent decades with the MMR. In many cases the condition becomes manifest *immediately* after the vaccination causing a drastic difference in the child.

      One theory holds that it's the combination all three at once that brings on the disease in susceptible individuals. Another is that it's mercury. Until recently these vaccines were laced with Thiomersal (Thimerosal?) which contains ethyl mercury. Methyl mercury is

      • Something particularly funny in the UK is that in an area with a low number of vaccinations due to stupid parents, there was an outbreak recently and quite a few number of children died. 90% of them weren't vaccinated because of their stupid parents. I find it funny that science wins again.
    • Re:Innoculations? (Score:2, Informative)

      by bluelark ( 642039 )
      As far as bad MMR batches go, there was knowledge that the MMR vaccines given in the mid 1970s were possibly ineffective. How I found this out was at a pre-college physical back in 1992, I got another MMR dose "just in case" because I was a female of childbearing age. Anyway, a few years later, when I was in school, there were cases of measles on several different college campuses, which lead to universities demanding proof of immunization before registering for classes.
    • According to a special investigative report [] by the "Washington Times", "Contagious diseases are entering the United States because of immigrants, illegal aliens , refugees and travelers, and World Health Organization officials say the worst could be yet to come".

      The author the report further states, " In 2003, nearly 26 percent of foreign-born TB patients in the United States were from Mexico ".

      The author also warns, "Federal data suggest that as many as 10 percent of the approximately 1,000 Mexicans

    • I'm not sure if it is this way everywhere, but here in West Virginia at around 5th grade it is offered at school, but your parents must sign a permission slip. It is free of charge, but many students do not take the paper home because they do not want to get the shot.
    • Many evangelical christian sects are notorious for their opposition to vaccines in general. In addition to cooking up laws pushing things like intelligent design, they also push for laws that make vaccination optional for school-age children. (Most states require innoculation before you enter primary, middle, and schools. Some require proof of vaccination before entering college)

      Considering that these outbreaks are taking place in the Midwest, there should be no suprise that mumps are making a comeback in t
    • My school required MMR booster or proof thereof and I believe (!) tetanus. You were not allowed to live in the dorms without proof of your MMR - the lines in the infirmary were always quite long during fall admissions.
    • They fade, or don't always work.

      I had the DPT series as a kid. So did my daughter. We both got Pertussis (Whooping cough) anyways (this was in 2001). It doesn't always take (or in my case, the immunity faded).
  • Doesn't the UK vaccinate kids for this sort of thing? The US has shown the power of childhood vaccination programs, and only a few whackos object to it because of unfounded theories that it causes Autism/Aspergers.
    • the big problem is what happens if a bug somehow (RC or ID) gets a mutation to
      1 blank the vacciene (like we know the flu bug does)
      2 increases the inucubation period
      3 ramps the bug to LETHAL
      4 includes the "airborne vector"
    • We do vaccinate against all of the usual suspects - MMR, TB, Tetinus etc.

      However, thanks to Rupert Murdock's rag [] a large number of parents became afraid of the MMR jab, and thus let their children go without.

      All of that flies in the face of the scientific evidence, and of the risks - i.e. your kids are at more risk from the diseases themselves than they are a reaction to the MMR vaccine.
    • The US has shown the power of childhood vaccination programs

      Whatever gave you that idea? Vaccination was not invented in USA, nor where USA first out to have vaccination programs.

    • *cough**cough* I dont think *cough* the vaccination *cough* was effective for me *cough* *cough*
  • Vintage? (Score:5, Funny)

    by richdun ( 672214 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:42PM (#15233614)
    1864 Mumps: A little fruity, but solid, bold taste. Goes well with chicken (pox).
  • Vintage? (Score:5, Funny)

    by escapedlabmonkey ( 965708 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:42PM (#15233615)
    Vintage diseases huh? I guess that makes them retroviruses.
  • by racecarj ( 703239 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:44PM (#15233619)
    It's caused by a lack of vitamin D. Children develop Rickets, typified by "bow bones." Adults get osteomalacia, with an increase in fractures. Rickets has nothing to do with "vintage diseases." All someone has to do to prevent it is a) better diet b) multivitamin c) suntan. mumps, pertussis, etc. are a different story...
    • They mean rickasseti. I know I misspeled it. They cause Typhoid, Rocky Mountian Spotted Fever, and are intracellar parisites. Chalydima is one.
      • by Stickerboy ( 61554 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @06:30PM (#15233804) Homepage
        They didn't call rickets an "infectious disease", they called it an old disease that is making a resurgence.

        From the article:

        "As if they didn't have their hands full with mumps and whooping cough, doctors are also starting to worry about other blasts from the past. National statistics haven't been collected, but many papers in the medical literature argue that rickets--a vitamin deficiency long thought to be a relic of the 19th century--is increasing among African-American and Hispanic kids, particularly in the North. Doctors blame it on everything from an increase in breast-feeding (breast milk doesn't contain much vitamin D) to the overuse of sunscreen (the body needs ultraviolet light to produce the vitamin).

    • Rickets used to be very common before they started adding vitamin D to milk. My father had ribs that didn't quite line up because of a childhood case.
    • Why do pale-skinned people live in Arizona and Utah? Do they like skin cancer?

      Why do dark-skinned people live in Chicago and Detroit? Do they like Rickets?

      If we ever get around to genetically engineering a fix: make the body produce Vitamin D in a sane way, and either reflect the excess light with silvery skin or re-emit it with fluorescent skin. Absorbing the UV just turns it into heat, which is lame.
  • Well, the part about university students being a breeding ground for virus' and disease is nothing new. Oh wait, you said universities! Nevermind then.
  • Holy hell.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:56PM (#15233677) Homepage Journal
    Taking a look at some of the downmodded posts, I took one of their ideas, and took a nice overlay of (known) illegal immigrant population centers and outbreaks. The similarity? About 75% of the areas do overlap. That doesn't necessarily mean anything but it does raise interesting thoughts/possibilities.
    • Re:Holy hell.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBCook ( 132727 )
      Well that kind of thing can be a possibility. I have no idea if it is though.

      But here in the US everyone (more or less) gets MMR vaccines. In most places you often can't get into middle/highschool without it. The few people who were born and grew up in this country who didn't get it (and were children of citizens) didn't get it because their parent were nuts or hyper-suggestable (there is a 0.001% chance that taking vaccine X will enhance the possibility your kid will get Y by 7%, we better not give it to

    • First off, what maps did you overlay? We would certianly like to see them. But I can think of a much better map; Consider mapping the poor and universities on the outbreaks. I suspect that we will see a higher correlation. or even the maps of income from say the last 15-20 years compared against children below age 5. I would suspect that you will see a high correlation amongst high growth areas where couples were fairly mobile and jumping across insurances. As to the associations with illegals, well, they d
    • Re:Holy hell.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by quarkscat ( 697644 )
      The co-relation of 75% overlap between areas of increased (and formerly controlled)
      infectious diseases and that of increased population density of illegal aliens is not

      There was a good reason for medical screening and innoculations that was such a
      large part of the legal immigration process at such historical sites as Ellis Island.
      Based upon monitoring of immigration news aggregators such as "",
      every contiguous TX, NM, AZ, and CA county to the USA's southern border, as well
      as every
      • Re:Holy hell.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by natrius ( 642724 ) <> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @07:17PM (#15233983) Homepage
        If you support the USA May Day demonstrations, you can blame the next disease you catch on your own political inclinations.

        Oh come on. That's bullshit. There's a difference between supporting illegal immigration and supporting changes in immigration laws to make it easier for foreigners to work here legally. If they were here legally, they wouldn't have to avoid getting medical treatment, such as vaccinations, due to a fear of getting deported.

        This is veering a bit off topic, but it's common knowledge that immigrants come here illegally because there is a demand for their labor. Why not allow them to come here legally, and in return, get the tax revenue we need to support their presence?
      • urgent care medical clinics that are legally forced (and morally obligated) to
        provide free health care to the indigent, especially illegal aliens

        They're only required to provide "life-saving" care, or at least care enough to bring the patient to a stable state. Once you're not in risk of dying, they can kick you out the door.
  • by Hextor_Freebish ( 971956 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:59PM (#15233683)
    These resurgences stem from the growing proportion of un-inocculated people in the U.S. When the proportion of people who are invulnerable to infection and transmission goes below a critical threshold, these diseases can spread through the population. The proportion of people who are not innoculated is growing because a calculated cost-benefits analysis reveals that it is wise to avoid some vaccines. There are some diseases that are now so rare in the U.S. that the expected health impact from the vaccine outweighs the risk of being unvaccinated in a by-and-large vaccinated society. In game theory terms, we have a game with two coalitions, Vaccinating and Non-vaccinating, and a couple hundred million players. All players will not join the Vaccinating coalition, because when the proportion of players is significantly above the critical virulence threshold, parents see an advantage to be gained in abandoning the Vaccinating coalition strategy and safeguarding the health of their children to some non-trivial degree. Given that the players in the game are going to continue to be free to choose whether to be vaccinators of their kids or not, not all people will make that choice. And not just because of some primitive superstition or political inclination, either. It's simple opportunism. The only thing that will shift the equilibrium of populations of vaccinators to non-vaccinators are environmental factors that affect each players' benefits analysis, such as: Fear - hysterical news coverage about the mumps and such Conformity Pressures - public shame upon those parents who break with the Vaccination Coalition of the Willing Misinformation - hysterical news coverage that insists that vaccinations don't have any negative health consequences Legislation - rolling back of laws that allow parents to not vaccinate, such as the one in Texas Such actions can be taken, but beg the question of whether they should be taken. Unless we are going to actually eradicate a disease, the Nash Equilibrium that results in the greatest good for society is the equilibrium set by the disease's virulence, A.K.A. only enough people get vaccinated for it to be an advantageous strategy to the rest to not get vaccinated.
    • Using paragraphs makes something like this much more readable. You should use 'em in the future. :)
    • A lot of these childhood diseases actually help strengthen the immune system. Here is an article from The Lancet, which explains that, while the measles vaccine does stop you from getting a rash...the rash is actually the body killing the virus. By stopping the rash, many vaccinated people get MUCH MORE SERIOUS diseases later on in life because they still have the virus, but because of the vaccine, the body can't get rid of it. The biggest majority of these diseases are a pain, but rarely life threatening. I would much rather have measles than lupus erythematosus, Scheurmann's diseases and chondromalacia, which are all chronic degenerative diseases...which means the doctor says, "it sucks to be you." -- Usurper_ii

      More info:


      An article in the January 5, 1985 issue of The Lancet is titled "Measles Virus Infection Without Rash in Childhood is Related to Disease in Adult Life." The research, based in Denmark, investigated the histories of people who claimed they did not have measles when they were children. Many of these people with no measles rash as a child, however, were found to have in their bloodstream antibody evidence of the measles infection. Significant numbers of these people had been vaccinated for measles, and "A high proportion of such individuals were found in adult life to have developed immuno-reactive diseases such as sebacious skin disease, tumours and degenerative disease of the bone and cartridge. These included cervical cancer, skin cancers and cases of multiple sclerosis."

      The fact that the normal progression of measles was halted by the vaccination appears to have prevented the body from destroying the measles virus. This destruction of the virus takes place in the "spots" for which measles is known, but when the vaccine prevents the spots and fever from occurring, the measles virus is not destroyed, and stays in the body through adulthood, the medical journal article explains.

      The Lancet article is further quoted by Chaitow, concluding that, "If this association is correct, absence of a rash may imply that intracellular virus escapes neutralization during the acute infection, and this, in turn, might give rise to developmental disease subsequently."

      "Put simply this means that, as part of the process of neutralizing the invading virus, the body literally 'burns' up the cells which contain (measles virus). This incineration takes place at the site of the spots or rash, which measles are known for. If this is stopped in some way (as by an inoculation with a vaccine) then the rash is prevented and the virus survives and lives on in the body, only to cause havoc later," Chaitow writes. Among these people vaccinated for measles and who did not have a rash, the diseases they displayed later in life included lupus erythematosus, Scheurmann's diseases and chondromalacia, which are all chronic degenerative diseases.

      "This research confirms the worst fears of those who have speculated on the possibility of viruses remaining dormant for many years after immunization. It also shows the folly of suppressing a self-healing mechanism, such as is displayed by the healthy body in response to infection. A healthy child will suffer no ill-effects from infection by measles virus. A child whose immune function has been modified and impaired by immunization methods, will be unable to adequately deal with such a virus, and may later suffer chronic degenerative disease, of one sort or another. This is no longer mere speculation but is, of course, not proved beyond all doubt. However, there is sufficient evidence to allow for the calling of a halt to the direction in which immunization is taking the human race, and to ask for emphasis to be restored to that aspect of the defense mechanism which has been neglected, the nutritional effort which can boost defenses without harmful potentials," Chaitow suggests.

      And the British author concludes, "We have seen earlier that the possibility exists for transfer of genetic material from viruses in the body, to the cells of the body, thus altering their code and their future pattern of reproduction. If malignant changes are part of that new genetic code, then that is what will be produced as the cell reproduces."

  • Don't forget... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Max Threshold ( 540114 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @06:00PM (#15233688)
    Bubonic plague [], now available in California!
  • this could be good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "That's partly because crowded dorms and cafeterias are breeding grounds for germs that are spread by sneezing and coughing."

    Maybe this will persuade university authorities to get off their backsides and do something about the shambles that is university accomodation - at my university it's four to a flat - I understand that people have seperate rooms, but that such a thing is not the case everywhere
  • Whooping Cough Sucks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TedTschopp ( 244839 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @06:05PM (#15233710) Homepage
    I got Whooping cough last year for about 5 months. Man did that suck. You can't sleep well at all. You wake up all the time not being able to breath. The bigger problem is that my Dr. didn't believe me and thought I had a bunch of other problems until the CDC sent out a letter. Anyway, the basic problem, I think, is that the shots I got back in the early 70's last only 30 years. So guess what. It's 30 (well 29) years later, and I got it, almost 29 years to the day that I got the shot.

    • by r00t ( 33219 )

      1. Be extremely careful for two years after birth. This is when whooping cough is really dangerous. No day care!

      2. Don't worry about the disease for the next 15 to 20 years.

      3. If you haven't caught the disease by the time you are a young adult, kiss a sick person.

      4. Be immune for longer than the vaccine would give you. Getting sick at age 20 may suck, but it beats getting sick at age 50.

      5. Be paranoid again as you get to be 100 years old.
  • New vintage styles available at Old Navy! Hawaiian tanks in all sizes, starting at $8.95! Whooping Cough, for man woman and baby, starting at just $14.95! Smallpox-infested blankets FREE with purchase!* Come see what's new this week! *Minimum 100 per store. Must be purchased on same receipt.
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @07:29PM (#15234020) Journal
    I guess we're getting this story now because people wised-up about "Bird Flu". Which, of course, was the successor to the short-lived "Super Volcanos" scare, which was itself the successor to the "World-ending Asteroid" scare story.

    It's not that the stories themselves are complete nonsense, it's the way that they are handled. It's as if each one is the focus of world attention for a few weeks, then COMPLETELY disappearing when the ratings drop. Then a short intermission, and the next one comes along with more hype than the last.

    I sure am glad that asteroids and bird flu aren't a threat anymore (who fixed them, BTW?), and I can focus on being scared by this new thing.
  • Rickets? (Score:3, Informative)

    by crmartin ( 98227 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @07:34PM (#15234033)

    That's Vitamin D deficiency. That's not an infectious disease --- that's people having a panic about suntans and fat in the diets. Let kids have regular whole milk (which is Vitamin D enriched) and play in the sun without dipping them in sunscreen and it'll go away.
  • Mumps is considerably worse as an adult than as a kid; notably, there is a chance (if a small one) that it can leave you sterile. Vaccinate your kids...
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:22AM (#15235242)
    A list of diseases making a come back:

    - Possessed by as ghost
    - A little midget living in your stomach
    - Selling your soul (most characteristic: you start believing Earth isn't flat and start doubting it's the center of the world)
    - Going blind when you... uhmm you know.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @10:49AM (#15236958)
    The currently recommended shot for the first five years is up to 28 shots. Used to a quarter of that when I was a kid. No wonder some parents are overwhelmed, especially the less educated ones.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.