Friday, March 15, 2013

Stop the AntiVaccination Billboards!

I have to say, since I read Slate, I am loving the science guy Phil Platt, so far. He pointed this out today on Slate. He said it much better than I am going to today. The crux of the issue is that the vaccine-hating "National Vaccination (mis)Information Center" is putting up these horrible antivaccine billboards. They show a cute baby and say "Vaccinations? Know the risks and failures."

It makes me want to hurl, literally and figuratively. Want to watch an infant die of pertussis? Mumps outbreak in New York brought on by an unvaccinated kid from Britain? Hib deaths in Minnesota in 2008? I was counting the seconds until Child 1 and Child 2 were vaccinated.

What can you do? Contact Clear Channel. Here is what I wrote - on the fly.

I am highly concerned about your decision to allow extremely flawed and dangerous billboard warning people off vaccines to be set up in your facilities. Are you aware we are having a huge pertussis outbreak? We haven't had an outbreak like this since before 1970. Infants, like the one in the picture on the billboard, are at huge risk of DEATH from pertussis since it stops their breathing. I doubt you would allow billboard that encouraged people to drink and drive even if its someone's 'opinion and money' that it is okay. Please take down this horrible dangerous billboards.

I also joined the 'Voices for Vaccines' facebook group. And I totally, shamelessly stole the billboard from the Slate page linking to 'Every Child by Two.' I did not place a link to the evil billboards so no one mistakes what I'm about.
Really, someday soon I will be posting more financial stuff. Really. Occasionally I just am really hit by something I read online, but that is what blogs are for.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Jane, antibiotics, and CRE

While I often alternate between finance and medical posts, based on some recent news, I went for a medical post.

Perhaps you have been reading the scary articles about CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae)? If you haven't, just search 'CRE superbug' and hear the doom and gloom for yourself. Basically, these awful suckers are found in hospital. They have been stealing resistence coding genes from other bacteria previously treated with antibiotics and are now resistant to our last line of defense antibiotics - carbapenems. The antibiotics also kill off the non-resistent competing bacteria giving these bad guys free reign in a patient. Half of the patients who get the infections will die because no antibiotics can treat them.  The bacteria are currently found exclusively in healthcare facilities . . . for now. . .

Freaked out? Wondering what you can do to protect yourself?
  • Wash your hands constantly while visiting a hospital. Touch something, cough on something, get coughed on - wash your hands. Try to keep from bringing as few germs as possible home from the hospital. Make sure everyone, including your doctor, nurse, tech, and housekeeping staff do the same.
  • Minimize your use of antibiotics. You probably don't have CRE, but the more 'normal' bacteria you keep around, the less resistant bacteria you are carrying. Many illnesses are actually viral and antibiotics will do nothing except kill of the innocent bystander bacteria.
  • Avoid visiting immunocompromised/elderly people while you are sick. They are the most vulnerable and constantly exposed to more antibiotics and germs. If a patient on chemotherapy gets a cold and fever, they may get treated with antibiotics. Even if it's probably just a virus, they can't take the chance it could be bacterial. An untreated bacterial infection in a patient with no white blood cells to fight it is almost always fatal.
There are plenty of times you will need antibiotics, but give all things time to show virus versus bacterial. Colds actually last 2 weeks, not 1 like people think they will. Antibiotics don't benefit people who have the flu virus. (Techinically, the flu virus softens people up for secondary bacterial pneumonia which is typically treated with antibiotics - in the ICU, on a ventilator, not the majority of flu cases)

Don't worry, in the future, I'll be writing a post on how I cope as a doctor knowing about all the killer germs out there. Hint - my kids eat dirt at non-hospital places.