Whooping cough epidemic in Wenatchee, Washington, makes case for vaccinations

June 19, 2012

Professor Matthew Hay ... assailed by the furi...

Professor Matthew Hay, the famous Scottish physician and public health champion, ” … assailed by the furies of typhoid, measles, influenza, whooping cough and scarlet fever,” the same furies that affect public health around the world, including Wenatchee, Washington  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thinking about skipping the DPT shot for your kids?

Read this story out of the Wenatchee (Washington) World about what happens to a small town when a significant number of people do that, and one of the kids gets sick.

EAST WENATCHEE — With 31 cases of whooping cough reported in Chelan and Douglas counties, health officials are saying the disease has reached epidemic proportions.

“People should be taking action to prevent it from getting worse by getting their Tdap shots, especially those people who are around infants,” said Mary Small, director of community health and preparedness at the Chelan-Douglas Health District. “Infants are at highest risk for death and hospitalization.”

The shots are for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, which is also known as whooping cough.

At last report, in early May, the two counties had a total of 22 cases this year. In 2009, there were no cases of pertussis in the two counties; in 2010, there was one case; and in 2011, there were two cases and one probable case, Small said.

You say your town isn’t as isolated as Wenatchee, Alaska?  Then there are higher odds that some stray person with whooping cough will wander into your town.  Your town is not as small as Wenatchee?  Then the odds are higher that you’ve got enough uninoculated kids to make an epidemic spread quickly.

Vaccinate the kids, will you?  They don’t need whooping cough.

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Swine flu shuts down prisons: Let the prisoners out?

May 3, 2009

This headline from the Sacramento Bee sure caught my eye:

Swine flu case shuts down visits at all 33 state prisons

Of course, I read it too fast, and skipped over the word “visits.”  I had to click on the story to see whether they were going to tell the prisoners to stay at home for a week, like the Fort Worth, Texas, school district did.   I suppose, after a fashion, that was exactly the message.

At the Officer of the Receiver for California Prison Health Care Services, spokesman Luis Patino said Sunday that an inmate in Centinela State Prison in Imperial County was diagnosed as probable for the H1N1 virus, or swine flu.

“The inmate and his cellmate have been isolated, Patino said. “They remain at the prison.”

Whew!

Ticket sales for movies are way up in those areas where the schools are shut down — good news for the opening weekend of X-Men Origins:  Wolverine.

Maybe we’d be better off if the kids remained in school, as well as keeping the convicts in the prisons.

Is the panic over swine flu too much? If we go back to the week ending March 21, 2009, we find that there were already more than 22,000 cases of influenza in the U.S., with 35 pediatric deaths.  Has the swine flu added to either the rates of infection or the rates of death?  If the dramatic steps, the event cancellations and school closings, are appropriate for the swine flu, shouldn’t they have been appropriate for the other flu viruses, too?

Do we really need to close schools?  What do you think — tell us in comments.

See the CDC’s report on swine flu at their site:    H1N1 (Swine Flu)

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