Measles, one of the most contagious infectious diseases, has popped up in 13 separate outbreaks across the United States. According to the CDC, more people have been infected with the disease in the first four months of this year than in the first four months of the past 18 years.
Data released by the CDC last week showed a dramatic rise in the disease with 13 reported outbreaks and 129 individual cases. California has the highest number, with 58 measles cases since January 1. The average number of measles cases in California is 9 per year.
You probably don’t think aliens are among us or secret societies are running the government, but do you believe in conspiracy theories of another kind? A new study from the University of Chicago published in JAMA Internal Medicine indicates you might.
According to that study, nearly half of Americans believe in medical conspiracy theories. The study found water fluoridation, vaccines, cell phones, and alternative medicine, among others, as prime subjects for conspiracy-based speculation.
To test just how much faith people put in the theories, the University of Chicago’s professor J. Eric Oliver and his colleague collected data from 1,351 adults through an online survey. Participants in the survey were presented with popular medical conspiracy theories and then asked to indicate whether they had heard them before, and whether or not they agreed with them.
Sleep has remained the focus of numerous studies recently, including a new report from the University of California, San Francisco that suggests a lack of sleep may reduce the efficacy of vaccines.
As reported by TIME, authors of the study claim this is the first “real-world” look at the connection between the amount of sleep we get and our immune response to vaccines.
The study took place outside of a traditional lab setting and instead tracked participants in their ‘day-to-day’ sleep patterns outside of a controlled environment. Participants were middle-aged and researchers studied how their bodies reacted to a ‘standard three-dose hepatitis B’ vaccine.
Findings revealed that those who got less than six hours of sleep a night on average fared much worse than those who slept more when it came to antibody response. In fact, they were found 11.5 times more likely to be unprotected by an immunization.
Lead author Dr. Aric Prather pointed out that this study shows concrete evidence of a connection between inadequate sleep and being more prone to infectious disease. (more…)
Whooping Cough is a highly contagious disease and according to health officials, has reached “epidemic levels” in the state of Washington.
By the end of March, that state had 640 cases compared to 94 last year at this time. At this rate, it could put Washington “on pace to have the highest number of recorded cases in decades,” according to the health department’s press release.
So far, there are no reported deaths. The last reported death from whooping cough was in 2011, where two people died.
The highly contagious disease is preventable through a series of vaccines. It is recommended children begin receiving the series as early as 2 months old and finish the round by the age of four or six years of age. Once the initial series of shots are completed, a child does not need to receive the booster shot until they are at least 11 years old. It is recommended to receive the booster every 10 years after that during adulthood.
A recent study that researched the outbreak in California in 2010 found that immunized children between eight and 12 years old were more likely to catch the bacterial disease than kids of other ages. This suggests the childhood vaccine wears off as kids get older. (more…)
Gardasil, the vaccine used for preventing HPV that can cause cervical cancer and genital warts is now approved for boys.
Gardasil was initially marketed for girls age 9 to 26 to protect against 4 strains of HPV, or the human papillomavirus. HPV is contracted by engaging in any sort of sexual activity. There are currently at least 100 known HPV viruses but this vaccine targets types 6, 11, 16 and 18: 16 and 18 are targeted against cervical cancer, and 6 and 11 aganist genital warts. The vaccine was originally approved in June of 2006 and since has been approved for additional indications including vaccination against vaginal and anal cancers.
Gardasil received approval for prevention of genital warts for boys and men in October of 2009 and approval against anal warts and prevention of anal cancer in October of 2011. The vaccine does give boys and men immunity to HPV type 16 and 18 that cause cervical cancer. Obviously, men cannot contract cervical cancer, but they can pass the strains of HPV to their female partners unwittingly. Men and women can both be carriers of these viruses so having both genders vaccinated is essential to reduce the virus from spreading.