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Many factors in infectious disease uptick
November 2nd, 2010
10:56 AM ET

Many factors in infectious disease uptick

Cases of some infectious diseases that haven’t been seen in decades are making a comeback. In California there are nearly 6,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, and other diseases such as measles, mumps and tuberculosis have returned. There are several reasons why these diseases are back: Some are cyclical; some have become resistant to current vaccines; some vaccines wear off so booster shots are needed; and there is the fear that some vaccines could cause other illnesses. Immigration also can be a factor, especially for tuberculosis but also for other diseases long eradicated from this country but still occurring in other parts of the world.

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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Lioness

    If illnesses are become "resistant" to current vaccines, that should be headline news. If we need to get boosters as adults, someone needs to get the word out.

    November 2, 2010 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Needing boosters as adults is well known in the medical community. But the interest from the populace is lacking.
      A larger problem has been the anti-vaccination geniuses, who even hold parties to SPREAD infectious childhood diseases, as they consider that a GOOD thing.
      They also consider vaccination harmful and continuously claim, in spite of a wealth of data to the contrary, that autism is caused by vaccination. Hence, they condemn once hundreds, now thousands of children to preventable disease, some of whom die from those disease and some are victims because the unvaccinated spread the disease to one who may be too young to receive their vaccination.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      The word is out, ACIP publishes these recommendations every year, but unfortunately many docs don't hear it. I had to argue with my provider about getting a DTaP booster because he wasn't aware of the recommendations. As far as "resistant" strains, I'm not aware of any major issues worthy of the news but keep in mind, that's why we revise our flu immunizations each year. Vaccine-preventable disease don't become resistant in the same way a bacteria does to survive antibiotics, but mutations can occur, mainly in viruses like flu, that make it look different to the immune system. In the end, knowing what I know about the ravages of many diseases for which we have vaccines, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them, and receive them myself, even if they had significantly higher risks than they actually do. With the exception of those with allergies or religious concerns, which are a small minority, I think we need to go back to mandatory vaccinations. Anything less is simply irresponsible.

      November 5, 2010 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
  2. AR

    I want to be corrected if I am mistaken but, since around the late 1980s, hasn't the number of vaccines given to infants and young children dramatically increased? Are American infants and young children being vaccinated for approximately three times the number of diseases than people currently over 30 years of age had received as kids? And receiving many of these vaccines simultaneously? What about the preservatives in vaccines to make their shelf-life" longer? Is this a myth? If true, what are these preservatives and are they really harmless? I had two animals receive three-year rabies shots and the outcome from that was not good ... Can I prove those vaccines did not increase health risks to my animals as opposed to the one-year rabies shot? No, but I will only give my animals the one-year rabies shot annually in the future, that's for sure. Also, are all these vaccines manufactured in the U.S.? I think I'm asking valid, intelligent questions.

    November 2, 2010 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MAC

      There is usually a preservative called thimerosal in many vaccines, and this is the chemical everyone gets upset about because it contains mercury. Everyone hears mercury and automatically associates that with toxic side effects. The bottom line is that there are various redox states of the mercury, and the one found in vaccines is inert. Essentially, it is not absorbed, it does not accumulate, it is safely excreted by the human body. The reason it was originally added was to prevent bacterial growth. I believe in the early 1900's several people died as a result of getting vaccinated by contaminated vaccines.

      November 3, 2010 at 08:16 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      The reason we vaccinate for so many more diseases now is that we have the technology and the means to prevent people from suffering from these diseases. For instance, meningitis is an extremely contagious, highly lethal disease that easily spreads through air. Meningitis is a painful, suffering way to die, so we introduced the PrevNar (sp?) vaccine, now required for admission to several universities, to reduce the chances of someone catching this bacterium and spreading it around. Chicken pox is, for the most part, a harmless disease, but in some it can kill. So the chicken pox vaccine was introduced to protect those who are immune-compromised or some such thing. We have to weigh the risks of vaccinating versus allowing needless suffering and death from diseases that are easily dealt with through vaccinations. I feel that it is definitely worth it.

      November 3, 2010 at 08:30 | Report abuse |
    • William J. Keith

      MAC, thimerosal hasn't been in any of the common childhood vaccines for years, at least in America, and it's being phased out in other countries. An American kid is probably getting more mercury if he eats a lot of tuna.

      AR, you ask to "prove those vaccines did not increase health risks," which has essentially been done. Now, I know less about the vaccination schedule for animals, though I presume it has undergone less testing than the standard schedule for people. Still, over the decades that we have been vaccinating people, we have seen numerous deadly diseases go down, quality of life go up, and side effects that are minimal, controllable when they do occur, and for any given person, a negligible risk compared to the real threat of serious diseases.

      Vaccination could eliminate infectious diseases like these completely, just like we killed smallpox. The Red Death is dead, people. We have vaccines to thank. Running away from vaccines is like giving up hand-washing. Every vaccine you skip is a vote for measles, for whooping cough, for polio.

      Get vaccinated. Get your kids vaccinated. It's good for you, it's good for your community, and it's the right thing to do.

      November 3, 2010 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
  3. AR

    I want to be corrected if I am mistaken but, since around the late 1980s, hasn't the number of vaccines given to infants and young children dramatically increased? Are American infants and young children being vaccinated for approximately three times the number of diseases than people currently over 30 years of age had received as kids? And, receiving many of these vaccines simultaneously? What about the preservatives in vaccines to make their "shelf-life" longer? Is this a myth? If true, what are these preservatives and are they really harmless? I had animals receive three-year rabies shots and the outcome from that was not good ... Can I prove those vaccines increased health risks to my animals as opposed to the one-year rabies shot? No, but I will only give my animals the one-year rabies shot annually in the future, that's for sure. Also, are all these vaccines manufactured in the U.S.? I think I'm asking valid, intelligent questions.

    November 2, 2010 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Gabe Kaniger

    Immigration.....imagine that. People sneaking in illegally are carrying infectious diseases....imagine that. That's why we have laws that require people to come here through the front door.

    November 2, 2010 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.