Archive for June, 2012

Polio and swimming pools: historical connections

Saturday, June 30th, 2012 (last updated)

Full article: The History of Vaccines

When the New York Times announced that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio on September 16, 1921, fear swept the nation. Polio, a little-understood illness at the time, had suddenly disabled a wealthy and prominent politician on the cusp of his career, making it clear that any American, irrespective of social status, was potentially susceptible to the disease.  With the national spotlight focused on the issue, the search for a cure or vaccine began, and the defeat of the dreaded illness became an important health objective in America almost overnight.


Polio is an enterovirus that infects the gut, and in certain cases, can travel up to the nervous tissue causing neuron death and ultimately paralysis. After the first U.S. cases were identified in the late 1800s, the numbers grew to a high of nearly 60,000 in 1952. The virus seemed to thrive in the summer months, with a “polio season” peaking in mid- to late-summer, and receding with the cool weather.


FDR’s sudden illness occurred during a trip to a vacation house and lake in New Brunswick, Canada. Fearful parents jumped on this association, and began warning their children against swimming in pools, lakes, or any area with open water. Pools were vacated, lake homes were avoided, and swimming became seen as a dangerous exercise.


In 1946, however, a study showed that chlorine was actually one of the few known chemicals that could inactivate the virus. Although polio is resistant to common soaps and chemicals of low pH – which is one of the reasons it was able to spread so efficiently — it can be rapidly inactivated by chlorine, as well as by heat and formaldehyde. Formaldehyde was the chemical ultimately used to inactivate the virus in Jonas Salk’s inactivated polio vaccine, or IPV.


The problem of polio transmission had not been solved, but swimming pools regained popularity as a fun and exciting summer venue for families. Moreover, chlorine, as a polio disinfectant, became the new face of sanitation, with strict regulations on chlorine in pools in place by the early 1960s.


So the next time you hear someone complaining of the smell of chlorine, or even the fact that it might turn some people’s hair a greenish hue, tell them about the role of chlorine in the public health crisis that panicked the United States in the mid-1900s and emptied community pools.

History of Vaccines (

Vaccine for nicotine addiction shows promise

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 (last updated)

Scientists have developed a new vaccine to treat nicotine addiction, according to a report published in Science Translational Medicine. Studying mice, researchers found that a single dose of the experimental vaccine blocked nicotine from reaching the rodents brain and heart over their entire lifespan.

Insider Medicine

International African Vaccinology Conference (Cape Town, South Africa, 8-11 November 2012)

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 (last updated)

We warmly invite you to join us for the International African Vaccinology Conference to be held in South Africa at the Lagoon Beach Hotel in Cape Town from 8th to 11th of November 2012.

This is a landmark occasion being the first conference on vaccinology held in Africa by Africans about African immunization and vaccine preventable diseases, involving the international vaccinology community including academics, immunization programme managers and policy makers.

The broad theme of the conference is Advocating for efforts to protect African children, families and communities from the threat of Infectious diseases, and the programme reflects this with a strong emphasis on evidence-based science, policy, advocacy and communication. Conference sessions will give ample opportunity for discussion and contributions so that policy needs can be informed by the best research to date. We visualize lively debate on the Challenges facing Africa, new vaccines and progress toward reaching our Millennium Development Goals, among other topics.

More info can be found here:

VACFA – Vaccines for Africa

VACFA – Vaccines for Africa

Vaccinations don’t explain babies’ celiac disease, study finds

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 (last updated)

Despite unfounded fears about the side effects of vaccines, the early vaccination of children is not linked to a recent increase in the number of celiac disease diagnoses, says a new study published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Celiac disease is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine become damaged due to a reaction to eating gluten. The damage prevents the intestines from absorbing parts of food required for good health, often resulting in malnutrition. Celiac disease affects approximately 0.5 percent to 2.0 percent of the general population.


In the present study, “Early Vaccinations Are Not Risk Factors for Celiac Disease” as conducted by researchers at the Departments of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology, and Global Health, the researchers sought to determine if changes in the national Swedish vaccination program coincided with the incidence rate of celiac disease diagnoses at the beginning and at the end of the Swedish celiac disease epidemic. The researchers also sought to assess a link between celiac disease and early vaccination.

The results of the study indicate that three of the vaccines (pertussiss, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and measles/mumps/rubella) were not associated with celiac disease because the changes to those vaccination programs did not coincide with the celiac disease epidemic. Two other vaccines (diphtheria/tetanus, polio) were also not associated with celiac disease because neither vaccine program had undergone changes.

Early Vaccinations Are Not Risk Factors for Celiac DiseaseClick here

The Inquisitr & Pediatrics

Can HPV-related head and neck cancer be prevented?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 (last updated)

Medical oncologist David Pfister of Memorial Sloan-Kettering talks about screening and prevention of head and neck cancer.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Number of children contracting a Hib infection has been reduced by 97%

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 (last updated)

The number of children contracting a deadly Hib infection has been reduced by 97%, experts said on the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the immunisation programme.

Before the vaccine there were 900 reported Hib infections in children each year in England and Wales, but 20 years on the number of children who contract the infection has fallen to just 30 a year.

It has been estimated that the introduction of the programme in 1992 has also saved the NHS £2 million each year in treatment costs.

Hib – or Haemophilus influenzae type b – infections can cause meningitis septicaemia and pneumonia in children.

The Hib vaccine is offered to children at two, three and four months old. A booster dose is offered at 12 months as part of the combined Hib/MenC booster, to provide longer-term protection.

Baroness Bottomley, who was health secretary when the immunisation programme was introduced, said: “Hib was the hidden killer, affecting thousands of families every year.

“As soon as we were confident that the vaccine was safe and effective, it became vital that a universal immunisation programme was introduced quickly, to protect as many infants and young people as possible. I am delighted that 20 years later the immunisation programme has been such an evident success.”

Dr Shamez Ladhani, a consultant in paediatric infectious disease at St George’s University of London, said that although the disease is better controlled than ever, surveillance needs to continue to ensure there is not a resurgence.

Dr Ladhani said: “While Hib control is currently the best it has been since the vaccine was introduced, there have been times in the past 20 years when the incidence of Hib disease increased and required introduction of a number of control measures – such as Hib vaccination booster programmes – to bring disease rates down to the current low levels. The increase in Hib during this period highlights the need for surveillance across all age groups for many years after apparent disease control.”

Around the world there are still 386,000 Hib-related deaths each year, mostly in developing countries.

The Press Association

Flu vaccinations give employers return on investment

Monday, June 25th, 2012 (last updated)

The workplace continues to be an effective way for New Zealanders to receive their influenza vaccinations and is an excellent return on the investment, says specialist health service company Life Care Consultants.

Life Care’s managing director, Janet Brothers says, “Having your employees vaccinated against flu at work is good sense for business. Research published in 2010 by Wellsource, one of America’s leading workplace health and wellbeing providers, shows employers benefit with a 40% reduction in sick leave.

The return on an employers’ investment for vaccinating staff against flu has been quantified at 161% in six months’ time.”[1: Wellsource Successful Health Management Systems Training Seminar’ Chicago IL May 3-5 2010].


In 2011 the National Influenza Specialist Group (NISG) recorded close to one million people in New Zealand who were vaccinated against the flu. “Based on the flu vaccinations Life Care has done so far this year – and we’ve only had a month of winter weather – I’d not be surprised if the country will pass the one million flu vaccination threshold,” says Mrs Brothers.

The NISG records that between 10-20% of New Zealand’s population are infected with influenza each year, and the effects of the flu can have an employee away from work for 5 – 10 days.

Hamilton City Council’s Safety & Wellbeing Advisor Tracey Stevenson says, “We’ve offered our staff free flu vaccinations for more than six years, with up to 20 per cent taking up this opportunity. Providing these vaccinations free makes sense to us on a number of fronts. As well as preventing staff from getting the flu, and possibly passing it on to others, it also promotes overall staff wellbeing and enhances workplace productivity with reduced absenteeism due to illness. Each year we receive positive feedback from staff who appreciate this workplace initiative.

Janet Brothers says, “Regardless of the size of the business, absenteeism and, very often, presenteeism – turning up to work when you’re sick, can have a hugely disruptive effect on other team members, service delivery and ultimately the bottom line of your business. Taking a wider and more altruistic view on flu vaccinations, there are significant social benefits with savings to the health dollar not to mention a more productive and healthier workforce.”


Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines and otitis media: an appraisal of the clinical trials

Monday, June 25th, 2012 (last updated)

Otitis media is commonly an acute infection of childhood that is most prevalent in children during their first years of life. Otitis media leads to substantial healthcare costs related to physician visits, antibiotic expenditures, and, for complicated cases, surgical procedures such as tympanostomy-tube placement. Otitis media is also a major factor in antibiotic use and the expansion of antibiotic resistance.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is the predominant otitis media pathogen and its prevention through effective vaccination could diminish childhood illness and antibiotic use. This paper reviews 5 pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) trials that used otitis media as an endpoint: Northern California Kaiser Permanente (NCKP; vaccine, 7-valent PCV [PCV7]-CRM); Finnish Otitis Media (FinOM; vaccines, PCV7-CRM or PCV7-OMPC); Native American Trial (vaccine, PCV7-CRM); Pneumococcal Otitis Efficacy Trial (POET; vaccine, 11-valent PCV [PCV11]-PD).

The full paper can be found here:

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines and otitis media: an appraisal of the clinical trials Click here

International Journal of Otolaryngology

Talking with patients about vaccines

Monday, June 25th, 2012 (last updated)

A seminar about immunizations. Planned for nurses (and the public) by nurses. The “need to know” resources and tips to assist in talking with patients about vaccines.

Partners in Pediatrics

Microbe that lives in salt shows promise for salmonella vaccine

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012 (last updated)

After years of complex research, a small team of University of Maryland scientists says it has developed a simple solution to a killer Third World disease using salt.

It’s a bit more complicated than ordinary table salt, though the crystals have the same origins. The salt forms around an ancient microbe that has been genetically manipulated to act as a vaccine for salmonella, responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths a year globally.

Discovered decades ago and the subject of intense research by many scientists, the microbe, called Haloarchaea, turns out to be such a good platform for vaccines that it could be employed against a variety of afflictions in poor and rich countries alike, said Shiladitya DasSarma, professor of microbiology and immunology in Maryland’s School of Medicine.

“We have a designer vaccine system which can be used for many different diseases,” DasSarma said. “Salmonella is a very serious problem affecting kids. If we give them a vaccine, we eliminate the problem because they never get sick.”


DasSarma targeted salmonella after receiving a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the research. Eradicating infectious disease in poor countries is one of the foundation’s primary goals.

Researchers still need to test the vaccine and determine the appropriate dosage, said DasSarma and his wife, Priya, manager of the lab inside Maryland’s Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology where they are leading the studies. In the end, the salt vaccine will likely be a pill to be swallowed rather than crystals to be shaken on food.

The vaccine would be the culmination of years of work by DasSarma that began in graduate school in Massachusetts on Haloarchaea, which occurs naturally in very salty water and is what gives the Great Salt Lake its pink hue.

The labor has been personal for DasSarma. His father almost died when he was a young child in India of salmonella-caused typhoid disease. (The salmonella that causes typhoid is a different strain from the one that causes intestinal problems in the United States.) As the father of two, he also wanted to pick off a disease that sickens so many young people.

If the vaccine proves safe and effective, it could solve one of the biggest problems of global vaccine distribution, because salt doesn’t need refrigeration, as most vaccines do. The vaccine would also be cheap to make, easy to store and safe because Haloarchaea doesn’t cause any diseases itself.


The vaccine could go a long way in stamping out the form of salmonella that causes typhoid fever, a major contributor to infectious-disease deaths in poor countries, said Dr. Robert Black, chairman of the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Black’s latest research shows that 64 percent of deaths among children under 5 globally in 2010 were from infectious causes. And there is no effective vaccine to prevent typhoid caused by salmonella in children younger than 2.

There were about 27 million typhoid cases in 2010 among adults and children worldwide, with at least 1 percent of cases ending in death when antibiotics weren’t accessible or were ineffective, he said.

The Baltimore Sun