False Balance: Where dissidence does not belong

Due weight.

Two simple, but arguably very important words in that they can be found in the Editorial Guidelines of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Journalistic guidelines regularly refer to due impartiality, and rightly so. Consumers subject to the bias of reporters are in for something like the pure fancy that comes from End Time Radio, Natural News or (where “freedom of choice is not free”) Vaccination News.

Under Impartiality – Breadth and Diversity of Opinion, the BBC Guidelines include:


Across our output as a whole, we must be inclusive, reflecting a breadth and diversity of opinion.  We must be fair and open-minded when examining the evidence and weighing material facts.  We must give due weight to the many and diverse areas of an argument.

Under Impartiality – News, Current Affairs and Factual Output:


News in whatever form must be treated with due impartiality, giving due weight to events, opinion and main strands of argument.  The approach and tone of news stories must always reflect our editorial values, including our commitment to impartiality.

The reason I’m focusing on the BBC is because of a direct link to false balance. Australia’s ABC have no parallel and our Australian Broadcasting Standards don’t contain specific attenuation of minority views getting a free ride on the coat tails of the prevailing or scientific consensus. That’s not to say either set of standards is not a useful device in underscoring or complaining about the mess of false balance. It’s just that the BBC have shall we say… history.

Presenting Wonders of the Solar System in 2010, Professor Brian Cox was explaining the impact Jupiter’s gravity has on Earth. He delightfully included in his narration, “Despite the fact astrology is a load of rubbish…”. Dedicated followers of woo complained. One stressed Cox didn’t allow the “alternative opinion”. And before you smirk dear reader, it is that astrologers use “observation and knowledge built over thousands of years”. Oooh yeah. They haz Appeal to Antiquity.

Cox provided a statement to the BBC, which they decided not to publish.

I apologise to the astrology community for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation.

This example of how complete nonsense is put forward as equal, or even superior, to schools of thought and theories that are in fact completely settled opens the December 2011 BMJ Editorial by Trevor Jackson, When balance is bias. [Dropbox] [BMJ 2011;343:d8006 doi:10.1136/bmj.d800].

The BBC asked Prof. Steve Jones, emeritus professor of human genetics at University College London, to review the BBC’s impartiality and accuracy of their coverage of science. As one might guess from scanning Australian and British journalistic codes with their liberal peppering of “impartiality”, it was the impact of “due impartiality” that worried Jones. He found the guidelines:

… had a distorting effect, creating a sense of equivalence where there was none, and privileging maverick and dissident views so that they appeared as valid as established scientific fact.

Jones found in areas of science that journalists risked giving the impression there were two equal sides to a story when there were certainly not. By insisting to bring “dissident voices” into settled debates within science, the BBC was guilty of giving an unbalanced view to these same areas.

Jackson’s editorial notes the disastrous effect Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent paper had on the uptake of MMR is in part due to media impartiality. The BMJ reported in 2003 on a study that indicated the media effectively misled the public.

The BBC reported in part:

Most people wrongly believed that doctors and scientists are equally divided over the safety of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, according to new research carried out during the high profile public debate over the vaccine last year.

At the height of the media coverage the impression was created that medical scientists were split down the middle over the vaccine’s safety, including reports of links with autism, say the study’s authors, from Cardiff University.

The report found that 53% of those surveyed at the height of the media coverage assumed that because both sides of the debate received equal coverage, there must be equal evidence for each.

It said only 23% were aware that the bulk of evidence favoured supporters of the vaccine. The authors said their survey would revive the debate about media coverage of MMR and how journalists deal with “minority voices” within science.

The belief that scientists were divided over the safety of MMR was a direct result of journalists seeking balance and led to what we now know as false balance. Face palmingly, head deskingly, infuriatingly, unacceptably in the case of vaccines, it is still underway today. Even worse journalists are dusting off long settled topics and where they should be stressing deception, suggest “debate”. In the video below an individual who is effectively a public health menace was appallingly labelled as an “expert”.

Even if these terms are not utilised in the straight out fashion Channel 7’s Weekend Sunrise recently did, everything is in place for the public to be misled into thinking actual scientific dissent exists over the safety and benefit of vaccination. Indeed today, the moral bankruptcy that accompanies antivaccinationists exceeds those who were taken in by Wakefield. The science is clear. There is no debate to be had. This places the antivaccinationist in a very unique position. A position of denial and deception buttressed by repeated claims of corporate conspiracies and so-called natural alternatives.

This latter rubbish is fed to the public because the natural enemy of the anti-vaccine commentator is scientific consensus. Given an opportunity to deceive the public the antivaccinationist can now introduce a host of irrelevant and false claims which in the context of an interview will create doubt in the minds of the public. In the video below Weekend Sunrise have an unqualified, science illiterate, conspiracy theorist effectively presenting nonsense in response to advice from the Director of Australia’s National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

Thanks to Channel 7 and @sunriseon7 members of the public may well have been misled. Farmer’s wife Meryl Dorey wants to “extend the hand of friendship” to the NCIRS and conduct a study into vaccinated vs unvaccinated. Yes that meaningless, shrivelled old cherry again. Quite simply it leaves a scam artist looking as though they have skill when they don’t and offering one side of a balanced debate, when in fact that debate simply doesn’t exist. There is certainly no need for an impossible study, but the public cannot know this.

The previous point is one scientists need to keep in mind when asked to appear alongside unqualified saboteurs of public health. There’s nothing that can be said in a few minutes that can assuage the damage done by elevating a skilled prevaricator to your own level in the eyes of the public.

Trevor Jackson concludes in his BMJ editorial:

Meanwhile, some science journalism will continue to be weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Until the notion of due weight becomes just as, if not more, important than impartiality in journalism and science reporting, we need to ask ourselves if those without any weight or those advancing scam debates deserve to be heard at all. Clearly, and helped along by the precedents outlined here by reasonablehank, the answer is no.

Channel 7 have previously presented a scientist “debating” a proven anti-vaccine zealot. True, these enemies of reason are challenged by journalists as to the flaws in their beliefs. Yet that is not the issue. The more often members of the anti-science lobby are given a pedestal from which to preach, the larger will be the percentage of the community that believes a genuine topic of scientific dissent exists. As with climate science, fluoride in drinking water, evolution, conventional medicine and more. In the case of vaccination there simply is no debate.

Vaccination saves lives.

Peter McIntyre and Meryl Dorey on Weekend Sunrise



Measles Goddess’ Wrath Hits Victoria

Victorian Chief Health Minister, Rosemary Lester offers 30 seconds of wisdom concerning the present measles outbreak in Victoria:

Or download MP3 here

As an outbreak of measles reaches 10 cases in Victoria we can be certain of one thing.

The misinformation peddled by antivaccinationists over the years will be underscored as just that. Misinformation. From ridiculous to dangerous these snippets of so-called wisdom have included claiming “measles” means “a gift from a goddess” in ancient Sanskrit, to measles being the cause of the growth spurt that happens to correlate with the most common age for childhood infection.

In the first instance a check of the link to Sitala Mataji – originally the smallpox goddess worshipped in Pakistan, Northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh – shows the divine influence to be malignant. Just as Sitala was burned by a carelessly forgotten stove, she randomly picks children in anger and burns them from within to punish the mortal.

Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network argues that as just one of the diseases that have “beneficial aspects… prevention may not necessarily be in the best interests of the child”.

Dorey would tell her audience using large slides:

Called “gift from a goddess” in Sanskrit measles can help to mature the immune system, may help to prevent auto-immune illnesses such as cancer, asthma and allergies later in life

In reality the Sanskrit word, “masuurikaa” translates variously as smallpox, measles, eruption of lentil shaped pustules, lentil, and procuress (female procurer). There is absolutely no evidence that infection with wild measles primes the immune system against cancers or allergies. Such claims belong firmly alongside the lie that certain potentially fatal and disabling diseases are “rights of passage”. Regarding pertussis and measles Dorey famously informed a national T.V. audience:

My mother used to put me with all the neighbourhood kids when they got these diseases so we would get them and get them over with and be immune. And there was no fear, there was no worry about it. We just got them, and we were supposed to get them and we did, and we were healthier for them. Now we have a medical community that’s saying if you get measles, if you get whooping cough you’re going to die from it. Well, where is the information from that? You didn’t die from it thirty years ago and you’re not going to die from it today.

In fact with measles the risk of encephalitis is at least 1,000 times greater from measles infection than from vaccination. Prior to the success of mass vaccination:

Measles was once a common childhood disease in Australia, and medical practitioners were well acquainted with the “fever, generalised maculopapular rash, cough and conjunctivitis” syndrome that equated to a measles diagnosis. Measles complications, particularly bronchopneumonia and otitis media in children, were commonplace. With so many cases in the community, relatively uncommon severe complications, including acute encephalitis (1 in 2000 cases), subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (1 in 25 000 cases), and death, were also encountered.

There is nothing “marvellous” about measles as suggested by a despicably misleading book. Aside from the sliding scale of disability cruelly dealt by encephalitis one or two fatalities per thousand infections is normal.

The overwhelmingly positive impact of mass vaccination can be seen in the catch up programme documented here as The Australian Measles Control Campaign, 1998. There are no conflicts of interest declared by the 12 authors.

The Abstract reads:

The 1998 Australian Measles Campaign had as it’s aim improved immunization coverage among children aged 1-12 years and, in the longer term, prevention of measles epidemics. The campaign included mass school based measles-mumps-rubella vaccination of children aged 5-12 years and a catchup program for preschool children. More than 1.33 million children aged 5-12 years were vaccinated at school: serological monitoring showed that 94% of such children were protected after the campaign, whereas only 84% had been protected previously.

Among preschool children aged 1-3.5 years the corresponding levels of protection were 89% and 82%. During the six months following the campaign there was a marked reduction in the number of measles cases in children in targetted age groups.

Six pages in on page 887 of the Bulletin of The World Health Organisation 2001, 79 (9), we find this table:

Notifications_preandpostOzControlCampaignThe authors note that whilst there was no immediate reduction in the number of cases in the six months following the campaign, there was a notable reduction in the age groups targetted by the campaign. Following 1.7 million MMR doses during the campaign, there were 89 Adverse Events Following Immunisation. 80 children followed up recovered without sequelae. Nine could not be followed up due to confidentiality restraints associated with ADRAC. The benefits were not seen in “untargetted” 12-18 year olds.

As one of the largest initiatives in Australia’s immunisation history, the MCC was deemed demonstrably effective. The authors wrote:

Each of the studies in this evaluation confirmed that the campaign was highly successful, particularly among preschool and primary-school children.

Graphed data including the impact of the MCC can also be seen here (Victoria 1962 – 2004) and here (Australia 1991 – 2011). The profound impact of the introduction of a second dose in 1994 is also clear in the second graph.

The two clusters in Victoria currently reflect one distinct arrival from overseas and a source traced to a domestic flight. A disturbing case in S.A. in August 2011 resulted in two distinct warnings stemming from just one overseas arrival. The only reliable defence against jet-setting viruses and wide scale outbreaks is herd immunity.

The need for ensuring oneself is vaccinated against measles goes without saying. Particularly as exposure to someone emigrating or returning from a part of the world where measles is poorly controlled is quite simply a matter of chance. In Measles Immunity in Young Australian Adults, Gidding and Gilbert write in Conclusion:

Based on the most recent national serosurvey data available, there are 2 cohorts with levels of immunity below 90 per cent — those aged under 6 years in 1999 (born in 1994-1999) and those aged 18-22 years in 1996-98 (born in 1974-1980). Only persons aged 30 years and over in 1996-98 (ie born before measles vaccine was available) had immunity levels above 95 per cent.
These results indicate the ongoing need to improve vaccine uptake in infants and suggest that a vaccination campaign targeting young adults would be beneficial.

If we wish to attenuate measles outbreaks to state level – indeed Victoria itself – we can examine a 2005 review by Becker et al. Monitoring measles elimination in Victoria, brings into sharp focus how damaging a drop in herd immunity can be, given that outbreaks – including this one – begin with importation of the virus.

The University of QLD authors sought to use “evidence from outbreak data that Victoria has achieved, and is maintaining, elimination of measles”. They wrote:

Conclusions: The data provide strong evidence that Victoria has maintained elimination of measles over the period 1998 to mid-2003. There is scope to improve the immunisation coverage. It is not clear how much outbreak intervention is contributing to the success in achieving apparent elimination.

Implications: To prevent importations from causing a major epidemic of measles, Victoria must maintain its immunisation coverage and outbreak control at current levels, or better. It is important to monitor the control of measles even when elimination is achieved.

Time and again we see the need to maintain herd immunity via mass vaccination. Lyn Gilbert wrote in June 2011 that researchers have presented evidence that measles has been “effectively eliminated” from Australia, “as well as from Finland, the United States, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Cuba”.

Elimination of measles is a viable goal for a number of developed nations. The stability of elimination has slipped further from our grasp for reasons including increased importation, socioeconomic realities and the feverish efforts of antivaccinationists. Measles is a potentially fatal and entirely preventable disease that also leaves many sufferers with lifelong disability.

It’s a public health disgrace that the measles virus can arrive in Australia to meet willing hosts who have been misled into risking their own or their children’s quality of life. That this is compounded by a demographic that experiences poverty and social trauma is a negative dynamic that health authorities should strive to rectify.

It is important that a calm measured approach is taken in educating the community about the dangers of measles and effectiveness of MMR immunisation. Also, strict and lasting penalties need to be dealt to homeopaths and chiropractors (to name just a few peddlers of alternatives to medicine) who profit from risking the lives of innocent Aussies.

The wrath of the goddess Sitala Mataji is something Aussies can do without.

Tracey Spicer talks vaccine conscientious objection

In all cases, those infected were not fully immunised

– The Cambelltown measles outbreak –

Are antivaxxers “nutters” or “freaks”?

So disastrous has the denial of vaccination for vulnerable infants and children been, that such frustrated descriptions come up time and again. Parents who seek reputable information are left in no doubt that vaccine denial is ill informed and a mistake of significantly high risk.

As the consequences of the anti-vaccine movement more and more take the form of outbreaks of entirely preventable disease, a greater percentage of Aussies looks upon vaccine denialists with disgust. Regrettably the fierce combative stance of vaccine denialists is probably feeding the rising disdain across the community.

The measles outbreak which began in Cambelltown NSW in May led to this article in the Herald Sun on August 15th. Sydney Schools on Disease Alert:

The health scare involving 40 cases concentrated in the Campbelltown area comes as new medical research shows a record number of parents are refusing to immunise their children.

Ten of the reported cases in the South West Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) have put sufferers in hospital in the past two months.

The majority of those affected have been school-aged children and babies under 12 months old. The Department of Education confirmed four high schools and a number of primary schools had circulated letters of warning to parents.

In all cases, those infected were not fully immunised.

According to Australian Doctor 30,882 parents have objected to the immunisation of their children. 6,000 of the 2 million children on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register have no vaccine history at all.

As I’ve noted before, enjoying a standard of health that allows the luxury to worry about improbable, irrelevant or indeed, imagined responses to vaccination is truly a marker of their success. In addition the drive and confience for individuals to take control and make decisions about their health is also a positive trend.

The problem, indeed the absolute sabotage of both these trends, are the wild conspiracies aimed at vaccination and the outrageous scams on offer for those who do explore management of health. Regrettably, hand in hand, these two factors have cultivated an anti-science mentality that carries the power of indoctrination.

Today, towering ignorance reigns for many when it comes to “health choices”. Thanks to an industry of stupidity, we are left with parents screeching and snarling for the right to harm their children and to treat them with snake oil. The results can be seen above.

On the same day the above piece was published Tracey Spicer filled in for one of the Murrays on 2UE’s The Two Murrays.

“That terrific group Stop The AVN…”. (Tracey Spicer)

Tracey and Murray spoke to Dr. Jason Cooke on the vexed issue of vaccine denial. Tracey mentions, “that terrific group Stop The AVN”. Here here!

Listen below or visit chirbit here.

Access the MP3 directly here.

Measles: A Gift from a Goddess?

One of the more ridiculous falsehoods spread by Meryl Dorey in her promotion of disease as better than vaccination, is that in ancient Sanskrit “measles” means “gift from a goddess”.

She further claims that this is so because robust health and “huge” growth follows measles. Which is not exactly what I’d expect to see in a child who’d been bed ridden, suffering fevers perhaps seizures, diarrhea, exhaustion, malnourishment, drowsiness, muscle pain, photophobia, dry cough, bloody nose, possible brain damage, etc, etc and of course the chance of death. This entire claim is utterly bogus and toweringly irresponsible given that some listeners will be influenced by it.

From page 26 of Dorey’s Iverell Forum presentation slides (AVN seminar teachings)

In fact the Sanskrit मसूरिका or “masuurikaa” translates variously as measles, lentil, eruption of lentil shaped pustules, procuress (female procurer) and smallpox. So, with apologies to Sanskrit we shall move on to examine exactly what relationship a Goddess may have with this disease and why. As with many early cultures and belief systems, significant phases in life are assumed controlled by divine power. Diseases are believed to come in response to divine retribution, anger, punishment or even the working of an evil witch or sorcerer.

With respect to this Merylism we at least have enough to visit the beliefs of rural Indian folk. Here we find the goddess Sitala Mataji also known as Shitala, Sheetala or just Sitala. Broadly speaking Sitala Mataji is the Hindu pox goddess, worshipped in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and particularly in Northern India and Western Bengal. With Bengal situated in the north-east of the Indian sub-continent geographical proximity supports a common anthropological view of infectious disease.

Sitala Mataji loves cold and coolness and this is reflected in her name. She likes cold food offerings cooked the day before. One derivation Shitala Devi means the Cold Goddess. Measles is caused by the anger of Sitala Mataji. When we talk about measles and this goddess it’s important to realise this is understanding measles in strictly religious terms. Hindus may refer to measles as choti mai or choti mata (the smaller mother) whilst smallpox is bari mai or bari mata (the larger mother). Before the eradication of smallpox in the 1970’s Sitala was associated with smallpox.

According to legend Sitala is one of seven sisters who live in the neem tree and who bring epidemic diseases. She is often in the company of Gheṇṭukarṇa, the god of skin diseases, Jvarāsura, the fever demon, the Cauṣaṭṭī Rogas, (the sixty-four epidemics), Olāi Caṇḍi/Olāi Bibi, the goddess of cholera, and Raktāvatī, the goddess of blood infections. The measles rash represents “heat” and “dirt” that must come out lest the child die. Child talismans of goat, lion or bear hair warding off the fear which measles brings, and indeed the way measles “frightens” children strongly reflect links to the spirit world.

Shrines to Sitala Mataji can be found near neem trees. Other talismans against evil spirits and fear include spreading neem leaves and rose petals across a child’s bed in the case of Punjabi Christians who also spread neem leaves on the floor and use them to brush the measles rash. Hindus place neem leaves over the entryway to the house and under the infected child’s bed.

They would also keep a can of wet cow dung at their door or child’s door so that people entering – who may be “impure” – can put their feet or leg in the wet dung which is “pure”, before entering to visit the victim. A herb kala dana which is also used for Evil Eye infections should be burnt as it’s smoke is good for measles, assisting the rash to “come out”. Some herbal teas assist in promoting fever which is viewed as assisting the heat and rash to leave the body.

Although Sitala looks out for children and mothers she is simultaneously destructive and protective. In An anthropology of infectious disease: international health perspectives, Inhorn and Brown (1997) cite a number of authors, writing:

Although Sitala is by nature cool when she is angry she becomes heated and attacks with pox diseases, overheating her victims as well. Excess heat in the body then causes the skin rash to appear. The idea is that the disease of measles is the goddess and that when measles occurs the goddess herself is within her victims, burning them. From this it follows that measles victims themselves are in something resembling a “godlike” state and it is appropriate for them and their families to follow a restricted “purification” diet while the disease is in progress [p. 308].

In order to placate Sitala Mataji parents wait until about the fifth day and having wrapped their child tightly in a white cloth take them for a blessing at the temple. The tight wrapping also increases perspiration and the progression of the rash. On returning from the temple wet cow dung is used to make symbols resembling on the wall of the house or house compound.

Cotton wool is spaced out evenly stuck to the dung. Red ceremonial worship powder is dabbed onto the cotton wool as Sitala is further encouraged to chill out (no pun intended) with prayers said in the child’s name. The symbols also serve to warn others away.

As expected in areas of counterfeit vaccines/medication and where less than half of “allopaths” are properly qualified there are stories of families following doctors orders to the letter only to loose the child. Others who sought to placate Sitala Mataji and went to the temple found their child recovered. Some Hindu women suggest these beliefs and strong relationship between measles and Sitala are a “carryover” from when smallpox was a major killer.

The legend of the vengeful burning arises from the story of a poor daughter in law ordered by her cranky mother in law to prepare sweets and food for the Sitala Satam celebrations, which were the next day. The daughter in law did but exhausted and having fed her child about 11pm, fell asleep. At the stroke of midnight Sitala Mataji came by and was burnt by the stove which had not been put out. Sitala cursed this woman and said “As I was burnt so let your child be burnt”.

On waking the woman realised her folly and saw her child was burnt. Other villagers pointed out it was the young mother’s fault that Sitala had been pained by the hot stove, become angry and thus, that her child had become burnt. The woman got permission to seek Sitala in the forest and eventually came upon an old woman with dandruff and “some tiny microbes” in her hair. The old lady asked where she was going and if she could spare time to clean her hair of insects and such. The young mother being a rather selfless type complied, handing her baby to the old woman.

After about an hour the baby revived and cried and the mother suddenly realised the old woman was Sitala Mataji in disguise. Showing devotion she fell into the holy lotus position and begged forgiveness for her mistake. This made Sitala very happy who forgave the young mother and promised to always be helpful to her – as long as no stoves were left on on that particular day. The next year the young mother’s jealous sister in law purposely left her stove on so her child would be burnt by Sitala Mataji. She journeyed into the forest but ignored the old woman and returned with a dead baby.

Devastated, crying, seeking forgiveness from the young mother and praying with true devotion to Sitala Mataji she begged the goddess “to make the dead child alive”. Sitala Mataji then blessed this child and later the jealous daughter made a confession and asked for forgiveness. So, the festival became one celebrated with devotion. All sweets and food are prepared the day before. Stoves are turned off and sprinkled with water. Devotees have a cold bath in the morning, and it is women and small children who worship mostly seeking blessing from the goddess Sitala Mataji.

The impact of this legend may be rightly gauged as profound. The life and death of a child is solely down to offending or proper appeasement of the goddess Sitala Mataji. In some North Indian villages as reported by Inhorn and Brown [p. 311] 74% of mothers believe measles cannot be prevented “whether through immunisation or otherwise”. It is a dangerous yet essential part of life. 70% believe no doctors should be seen lest the goddess – who resides within measles – is offended. Of 18 cases among Sikhs in India none were taken to a doctor. Three died [p. 313].

Apart from increasing perspiration, wrapping also prevents “measles-associated pneumonia” – a widely held fear. It is believed pneumonia is caused by cold. Even after recovery, isolation and wrapping continues to prevent “breathing problems”. Sitala has a brother god who causes the gasping for breath seen in pneumonia which suggests measles-pneumonia is also a part of Hindu mythology. In families with severe poverty and illiteracy other children die of dehydration from measles induced diarrhea, which is also seen as a means of removing the heat inflicted by Sitala Mataji.

In simple terms, in the cultures Dorey was misrepresenting, measles is seen as a curse from a goddess. One who demands in response such absolute devotion that children die as their superstitious parents fear offending her with medicine and instead smear cow dung on the walls of their home, pray and burn ritual herbs. In a fit of anger she attacks and burns small children through the fault of the mother who must then carry the burden of hit and miss spiritual appeasement. It is these very beliefs and others like them that will for a long time prevent significant reduction of measles in developing nations.

Clearly there is no gift from any goddess. No “huge” growth spurt. Only a pitiful struggle for survival and the fear of Sitala’s brother god. Ken McLeod on page 24 of Meryl Dorey’s trouble with the truth part 3: lies and fraud offers [bold mine]:

In a Sanskrit dictionary the word “masuri ” means “small-pox,” and the Sanskrit equivalent of the English word “measles” is “masurika मसूरिका”, from ‘a kind of herb’, ‘lentil’ or ‘pillow’, as in “an eruption of lentil-shaped pustules.” There is no etymology involving gifts from goddesses. The World Health Organisation tells of a superstition in the Indian subcontinent that smallpox resulted from a wrathful kiss by the Goddess of Smallpox, Shitala Mata. That is quite the opposite to Dorey’s claim.

One must pause and wonder if Dorey has any remote appreciation of the harsh living conditions and unbridled suffering such villagers may endure. Or if she understands their struggle as she sprouts her own cow dung over the simple truths that control their quality of life. If she is so inclined then why not smear cow dung on her own walls or offer a can full at the next pox party?

Strange isn’t it. We won’t see the antivaccination devotees stepping in wet cow dung before crossing the threshold to visit a sick child. Nor would we see devotees of Sitala Mataji giving their children the saliva of children already infected with measles. All things considered I’m pretty sure who is the most misguided.

Gift from a Goddess? I call cow dung.

Australian Vaccination Network silent on S.A. measles outbreak

Measles is a serious disease that is easily spread through the air. Immunisation is effective in preventing the disease. All children and adults born during or after 1966 should be vaccinated with 2 doses of MMR vaccine if not already immune.

So says a pretty straight forward opening to the NSW Fact Sheet on measles. Yet we know this isn’t good enough for certain people who usually cite a series of grossly inaccurate claims for avoiding immunisation. Claims fed to Australians from a growing number of crackpots, chiropractors, charlatans and opportunistic new age scam artists. Perhaps the most damaging source is the Australian Vaccination Network presently facing court proceedings.

Meryl Dorey must be proud of her handiwork, although yesterday was unusually quiet regarding South Australia Health’s public health alert, down to two people whose parents took Meryl’s advice;

August 11 2011

SA Health has issued a public health alert about the highly infectious measles virus following two confirmed cases in South Australia this week. SA Health’s Chief Medical officer, Professor Paddy Phillips, said both cases are linked with the recent measles case reported in July this year.

“Both of these people were not vaccinated against measles and were in close contact with the original case during his infectious period,” Professor Phillips said.

The original case? Yes, the original case;

15 July 2011

SA Health has issued a public health alert about the highly infectious measles virus following a confirmed case in South Australia this week.

SA Health’s Chief Medical officer, Professor Paddy Phillips, said a man from metropolitan Adelaide acquired the virus while overseas.

“During the infectious period, the man travelled from Dubai through Melbourne to Adelaide,” Professor Phillips said.

What was Meryl Dorey doing yesterday, as Australia’s self proclaimed expert of vaccine preventable disease and the vaccines themselves? Where was her release on this trifling matter? “You didn’t die from it 30 years ago and you’re not going to die from it today”, she lied back in April 2009. Well, we had a schlock article from the far fringe, Why Don’t Children Regress Before They Turn One? by F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP-the evidence mounts-vaccines cause autism! That’s Dorey’s bit on the end. “-the evidence mounts-vaccines cause autism!”. Yes, that Edward Yazbak – antivaccination rogue and autism scare monger.

As I noted a few posts back this headline maker just won’t lie down. Yazbak’s nonsense can be dispensed swiftly if we note that measles deaths increased but autism rates remained the same when MMR was ceased in Japan altogether and autism rates persisted when thimerosal was removed from the MMR vaccine. So both the “vaccine culprit” and the “thimerosal (mercury compound) culprit” are dead. But this won’t prevent pushing belief systems. Like Ken Ham building a creation museum following a court victory to prevent teaching creationism as science, the autism schlock jocks will just get sillier and sillier.

So with no reason to not vaccinate and evidence denialists making us sicker the tired old line about pro choice is revealed as an outrageous smirk to hide the truth of an ideology gone terribly wrong. With that in mind should we worry about yesterday’s health warning? It continued;

SA Health is currently contacting those who may have been spent time with either of these people to provide information and advice about prevention measures.

One visited several public places during their infectious period, including Va Bene at the Burnside Village on Friday 22 July from 11:00am to 5:30pm and on Saturday the 23rd July from 10:00am to 5:00pm. The same person was also in the Hindley Street precinct, including the Red Square Bar and Lounge and the Rosemont Hotel between 11:50pm on Saturday 23 July to 4am on Sunday 24th July.

We are advising anyone who was in these areas during these times to be alert for any symptoms of measles over the next two weeks and if they are ill to see their doctor.

I don’t want to spoil the candid tone of the the health warning but Va Bene at Burnside Village houses beauty salons, shoe shops, clothing stores, more shoes… Given the time/s spent there we seem to have someone working in a very public place. Given we probably go to Va Bene to make ourselves bootifal I’m guessing a female twenty something. Probably having risen to the dizzying corporate heights of a shop assistant. Someone who knows they’re unvaccinated, spent time with an infectious measles patient and is skipping about town by choice. Call me mean but I’m guessing Ms. Va Bene giggles a lot.

Then it’s on to the Red Square Bar and Lounge and Rosemont hotel that night until 4am. Four AM? Neighbourhood Watch perhaps? You just know what Google’s going to tell us about where our giggly and dizzy twenty something unvaccinated groupie’s been, don’t you.

Happy hours and top 40 hits abound at Adelaide’s “number one R&B club”. Housed in the massive Red Square complex (no, not a hangover from the cold war) this bar cum late-night club sees more than its fair share of punters – dressed to the nines and eager for tasty beats – packing the dancefloor each night.

Oh my. It went a-dancing. How’s measles spread again? Could Giggles Va Bene have possibly known to lay low?

  • Measles is usually spread when a person breathes in the measles virus that has been coughed or sneezed into the air by an infectious person. Measles is one of the most easily spread of all human infections. Just being in the same room as someone with measles can result in infection.
  • People with measles are usually infectious from just before the symptoms begin until four days after the rash appears. The time from exposure to becoming sick is usually about 10 days. The rash usually appears around 14 days after exposure.

Ah. Just “being in the same room”. Giggles was one of the “fair share of punters… packing the dancefloor each night”, at Red Square Bar.

Then on to The Rosemont Hotel, a cool 24 hour sports bar and pokie venue. The time overlap for infection and incubation is perfect. July 22nd. It’s highly probable Giggles Va Bene was given a heads up on the potential for developing measles herself, as all those close to the male patient would have been contacted. Being in close contact with the initial measles patient during the infectious period and gallivanting around town helps confirm my diagnosis of dizzy and giggly.

In fact the anti-vaxxer cry of “We’ll always quarantine ourselves” in defence of being a public risk is revealed in this case as utterly futile. And indeed rightly so. No public health measure can rely on promises and hearsay from anybody, much less evidence denialists . One may be forgiven for thinking Giggles Va Bene is a tad arrogant. This is a mature young woman who has every right and opportunity to have herself vaccinated yet has chosen not to do so. Who ignored the risk of almost certain infection. Who may well have ignored public health advice. The standard public health response in this regard includes;

…identify other people at risk of infection, implement control measures (such as immunisation and restrictions on attending school or work) and provide other advice.

One hopes her companions fit the high probability of being vaccinated. Even still, subclinical infection is always a possibility and that goes for anyone who was unfortunate enough to come anywhere near this individual. After all she isn’t going to dress like a first century Palestinian leper carrying a tin cup moaning “…unclean… unclean”.

That however, is the real point here. This poor woman is almost certainly a victim of her parents and her own ignorance born of calculated fear mongering and stupidity. We don’t need the sick and infectious to wear signs nor to yell their approach for we have the protection of vaccines as individuals and vaccine induced herd immunity as a community. So, what may the future bring if this continues to unfold? We can look to New Zealand – on the very same day – for an idea;

A measles outbreak in the upper half of the North Island has led to a spike in the number of children being vaccinated against the highly contagious virus.

Ministry of Health vaccine distribution figures showed a “significant increase” in demand for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine this year, ministry immunisation manager David Wansbrough said today.

More than 120 cases of measles have been reported since the outbreak began in Auckland in May. Waikato District Health Board (DHB) yesterday confirmed 17 cases – all in teenagers – in the region, with eight more suspected cases. Health authorities fear the virus may have spread to Northland after a three-year-old with suspected measles went to day care during the infectious period.

A 17-year-old Taupo girl has also been diagnosed with the virus.

Measles infections and deaths pre and post vaccine

When the reality of “informed choice” hits home as a potentially lethal disease somehow the trendy status of being a parent with unvaccinated kids loses it’s gloss. We see increased vaccination. But not always. This is a belief system and one worn as a badge of imagined independence from social conformity. Ms. Giggles Va Bene may potentially become a very sick young lady and may quite likely carry some problems for life.

Even worse, she may have infected babies or someone who cannot be vaccinated or someone else playing the same game of Russian Roulette. Complications for adults over twenty include;

  • diarrhoea,
  • vomiting,
  • eye infection (conjunctivitis), and
  • inflammation of the voice box (laryngitis).

Inner ear infection and inflammation (otitis media), which often causes earache, may also be a complication of measles.

Fits that are caused by a fever (febrile convulsions) are also possible complications of measles.

Less common complications include;

  • meningitis,
  • pneumonia (lung infection), signs of which are fast, difficult breathing, chest pain and deteriorating condition,
  • hepatitis (liver infection),
  • encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), which can be fatal, so watch for drowsiness, headache and vomiting,
  • low platelet count, known medically as thrombocytopenia, which affects the blood’s ability to clot,
  • bronchitis and croup (infection of the airways), characterised by a hacking or barking cough, and
  • squint, if the virus affects the nerves and muscles of the eye.

More serious complications;

  • serious eye disorders, such as an infection of the optic nerve (the nerve that transmits information from the eye to the brain), known as optic neuritis, which can lead to blindness,
  • heart and nervous system problems,
  • a serious brain complication known as subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), which can sometimes occur several years after measles. Although the condition is fatal, it is very rare, occurring in only 1 in every 100,000 cases of measles.

Don’t listen to the anti-vaccination lobby. Speak to your doctor and be sure to get your children vaccinated.

SA Health has issued a public health alert about the highly infectious measles virus following a confirmed case in South Australia this week.

SA Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paddy Phillips said the 44-year-old woman from metropolitan Adelaide has been linked to the recent measles case in late January.

“Measles is highly contagious among people who are not fully immunised, and is spread through coughing and sneezing,” Professor Phillips said.

“The illness begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and sore eyes, followed by a rash which begins on the head and then spreads down the body.  Complications of measles can be severe.

“We are advising anyone who was in the locations listed below during these times to be alert for symptoms over the two weeks after that potential exposure and if they are ill to see a doctor.

“It is very important that people phone their GP ahead of any visit and mention why they are attending, so that precautions can be taken to avoid spreading disease to others.”

  • Tuesday 31st January, West Lakes Shopping Centre, 10.00am to 2.00pm.
  • Wednesday 1st February, Cyprus Community Club, 8 Barpowell Rd, Welland, 10:00am to 3:00pm.
  • Thursday 2nd February, Uniting Care Wesley Adelaide, Mile End, 9.30am to 12.00pm.
  • Thursday 2nd February, Thebarton Neighbourhood House 10 Falcon Ave, Mile End,10.00am to 4.00pm
  • Thursday 2nd February, AMF Woodville Bowls 12.00pm to 3.30pm.
  • Friday 3rd February, Cheltenham Community Centre, 62 Stroud Street North, Cheltenham 9:30am to 5:00pm.
  • Friday 3rd February, on the 10.40am train from Cheltenham to the City.
  • Friday 3rd February, Jasper’s Coffee shop, Adelaide 11.00am to 2.00pm.
  • Friday 3rd February, on the 12.07pm train from the City to Cheltenham.

An alert has been issued to General Practitioners advising them of this case.

SA Health has contacted the businesses the woman visited during the infectious period.

Immunisation provides the best protection against measles. Two doses of measles containing vaccine are strongly recommended for all persons born after 1965.

People in this age group are encouraged to check their vaccination records, and request the vaccine if there is no record of two doses of measles vaccine.

This is the second case of measles reported in South Australia during 2012. There were four cases reported in 2011.

A fact sheet about measles can be found on SA Health’s website:www.sahealth.sa.gov.au

For more information call the SA Health Media Line.

Telephone: (08) 8226 6488

All one close group with only one thing in common. Being not vaccinated against measles.