From Drudge, here’s a report on the outbreak of a disease that ought to concern any parent whose children are not up-to-date on their mumps vaccines:
New York City’s Health and Mental Hygiene Department is warning doctors about a mumps outbreak in Brooklyn.
The cases started turning up in late August.
The outbreak began among children from Borough Park who attended summer camp in Upstate New York. Now, a similar outbreak is being reported in New Jersey.
So far, 57 confirmed or probable cases have been identified in New York. Cases of mumps have continued to occur in Borough Park since the start of the school year.
The victims have ranged in age from 1 to 42 years of age. Most of the cases are among children ages 10-15 years old.
Mumps is an illness characterized by acute swelling of the salivary gland lasting two or more days. The illness can cause deafness and encephalitis.
[and sterility in adult males – D]
Children who are not fully vaccinated against mumps are the highest risk of infection.
Some worriers out there have been predicting that President Obama would use his executive powers to shove policy his way. In the past, I dismissed that as overheated rhetoric, but now it’s beginning to appear that the paranoids got it right.
First, some context:
CBS News Exclusive: Study Of State Results Finds H1N1 Not As Prevalent As Feared
Last week, CBS News finished researching the swine flu “epidemic” and concluded:
If you’ve been diagnosed “probable” or “presumed” 2009 H1N1 or “swine flu” in recent months, you may be surprised to know this: odds are you didn’t have H1N1 flu.
In fact, you probably didn’t have flu at all. That’s according to state-by-state test results obtained in a three-month-long CBS News investigation.
The ramifications of this finding are important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Britain’s National Health Service, once you have H1N1 flu, you’re immune from future outbreaks of the same virus. Those who think they’ve had H1N1 flu — but haven’t — might mistakenly presume they’re immune. As a result, they might skip taking a vaccine that could help them, and expose themselves to others with H1N1 flu under the mistaken belief they won’t catch it. Parents might not keep sick children home from school, mistakenly believing they’ve already had H1N1 flu.
Then CBS asks why the uncertainty about who does and who does not have swine flu:
In late July, the CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases. The rationale given for the CDC guidance to forego testing and tracking individual cases was: why waste resources testing for H1N1 flu when the government has already confirmed there’s an epidemic?
Some public health officials privately disagreed with the decision to stop testing and counting, telling CBS News that continued tracking of this new and possibly changing virus was important because H1N1 has a different epidemiology, affects younger people more than seasonal flu and has been shown to have a higher case fatality rate than other flu virus strains.
CBS News learned that the decision to stop counting H1N1 flu cases was made so hastily that states weren’t given the opportunity to provide input…
Obviously, the CDC was acting hastily, so CBS News went into fight-the-bureacracy-mode:
When CDC did not provide us with the material, we filed a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). More than two months later, the request has not been fulfilled. We also asked CDC for state-by-state test results prior to halting of testing and tracking, but CDC was again, initially, unresponsive.
“Unresponsive”? Quelle surprise! CBS, not being a bureaucracy, went directly to the states themselves:
While we waited for CDC to provide the data, which it eventually did, we asked all 50 states for their statistics on state lab-confirmed H1N1 prior to the halt of individual testing and counting in July. The results reveal a pattern that surprised a number of health care professionals we consulted. The vast majority of cases were negative for H1N1 as well as seasonal flu, despite the fact that many states were specifically testing patients deemed to be most likely to have H1N1 flu, based on symptoms and risk factors, such as travel to Mexico.
The website has a nice little graphic showing the results of testing. Here they are in tabular form:
The CBS report goes on to fisk a sloppy story concerning a “flu outbreak” at Georgetown University. I urge you to read the particulars.
The research for this investigation took three months and uncovered some curious information:
– – – – – – – – –
CDC continues to monitor flu in general and H1N1 through “sentinels,” which basically act as spot-checks to detect trends around the nation. But at least one state, California, has found value in tracking H1N1 flu in greater detail.
“What we are doing is much more detailed and expensive than what CDC wants,” said Dr. Bela Matyas, California’s Acting Chief of Emergency Preparedness and Response. “We’re gathering data better to answer how severe is the illness. With CDC’s fallback position, there are so many uncertainties with who’s being counted, it’s hard to know how much we’re seeing is due to H1N1 flu rather than a mix of influenza diseases generally. We can tell that apart but they can’t.” [my emphasis – D]
After our conversation with Dr. Matyas, public affairs officials with the California Department of Public Health emphasized to CBS News that they support CDC policy to stop counting individual cases, maintaining that the state has the resources to gather more specific testing data than the CDC.
In other words, don’t rely on the national figures, do a reality check with your state health department. They’ll supply the truth while continuing to mouth platitudes about the CDC’s less-than-optimal approach.
And how’s this for medical advice?
Because of the uncertainties, the CDC advises even those who were told they had H1N1 to get vaccinated unless they had lab confirmation. “Persons who are uncertain about how they were diagnosed should get the 2009 H1N1 vaccine.”
CBS mentions the downside to getting the vaccine “anyway”:
…the CDC recommendation for those who had “probable” or “presumed” H1N1 flu to go ahead and get vaccinated anyway means the relatively small proportion of those who actually did have H1N1 flu will be getting the vaccine unnecessarily. This exposes them to rare but significant side effects, such as paralysis from Guillain-Barre syndrome.
It also uses up vaccine, which is said to be in short supply. The CDC was hoping to have shipped 40 million doses by the end of October, but only about 30 million doses will be available this month.
And guess what? The CDC didn’t respond to questions from CBS. The report was done without their cooperation. Imagine that.
Our President is not letting reality interfere with his actions, either. From the New York Times and Washington Post come these stories. First, the Times:
President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients.
The declaration, signed Friday night and announced Saturday, comes with the disease more prevalent than ever in the country and production delays undercutting the government’s initial, optimistic estimates that as many as 120 million doses of the vaccine could be available by mid-October.
Less scrutiny that way. When the press reports back for work on Monday morning, the “news” is old by media standards.
Health authorities say more than 1,000 people in the United States, including almost 100 children, have died from the flu, known as H1N1, and 46 states have widespread flu activity. So far only 11 million doses have gone out to health departments, doctor’s offices and other providers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials.
Administration officials said the declaration was a pre-emptive move designed to make decisions easier when they need to be made. Officials said the move was not in response to any single development.
Health and Human Services chief Kathleen Sebelius now has authority to bypass federal rules when opening alternative care sites, such as offsite hospital centers at schools or community centers if hospitals seek permission.
Notice the lack of specificity here. Which forty-six (or fifty-seven, whatever) states are reporting “widespread flu activity” and, given the information we have from CBS, how much of that “flu activity” has actually been tested for swine flu and found to be positive?
Also notice the term “pre-emptive” because that’s the one you’re supposed to get used to and this fake emergency is as good a way as any to get you used to these pre-emptive “emergency” orders.
WaPo has slightly different wording, using direct quotes:
…Obama does “hereby find and proclaim that, given that the rapid increase in illness across the Nation may overburden health care resources and that the temporary waiver of certain standard Federal requirements may be warranted in order to enable U.S. health care facilities to implement emergency operations plans, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in the United States constitutes a national emergency.”
White House officials downplayed the dramatic-sounding language, saying the president’s action was not prompted by a new assessment of the dangers posed to the public by the flu.
Instead, officials said the action provides greater flexibility for hospitals which may suddenly find themselves confronted with a surge of new patients as the virus sweeps through their communities.
“The H1N1 is moving rapidly, as expected. By the time regions or healthcare systems recognize they are becoming overburdened, they need to implement disaster plans quickly,” White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said Saturday.
This is such a crock. Obama has to look like he’s doing something other than his usual “jack” and “squat” so he signs weekend emergency orders that aren’t really emergencies. They’re simply getting Americans used to “emergency-oh-my-gosh-orders” that will severely curb our freedoms. This one is a test, it is only a test…
The Times and WaPo ought to be ashamed for not giving some context on this piece of “news” emanating from the White House. For example, they could have compared those one hundred children’s deaths from the H1N1 virus with the two thousand kids who die in car accidents each year.
Maybe it’s time to pay more attention to the paranoid gallery?