Monday, October 15, 2007

Annals of wacky allopathy: Polio Vaccine causes Polio

Did you even know this could happen?

In 2000, the United States switched to injected vaccine made from killed virus, which cannot mutate. But oral drops with the live, weakened version of the virus are still used in most poor countries, including those where the disease has never been eliminated: Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This vaccine, invented by Albert Sabin, is easier to give, offers much stronger protection and can beneficially “infect” other family members or neighbors, protecting them too.

But in rare cases, it can mutate into something resembling wild polio virus, which can paralyze or kill.
And aid workers wonder why people don't trust them. The former lieutenant governor of Viriginia mentioned in the story (he reputedly got polio after his elder son Jack got the Sabin vaccine) is Jenna Bush's prospective father-in-law, by the way; that he wasn't mentioned by name does suggest the New York Times has rather a grudge against the President.


Anonymous said...

The version of this article that I read made it clearer that the mutated vaccine would not sicken the individuals who had recently been vaccinated. Instead, it would sicken the people who had not been vaccinated and who were drinking water contaminated with vaccinated sewage.

I guess this problem would actually double the reasons to get vaccinated when the aid workers show up in your town...

-friend of Brad and Kendell

Rionn Fears Malechem said...

Thanks for the post, FBK!

Yes, creating a problem for a community and then controlling how the solution gets parceled out has a long and storied tradition in development work. Or, really, in general.

I suspect John Hager, who I'll name now that I've had my little joke, wasn't drinking sewage, but polio does transmit feco-oral. While contaminating drinking water is one way to do it, you can also eat food prepared by (or shake hands with!) someone who didn't wash his or her hands, or go about changing diapers.

So, wash your hands and keep them away from your face. And keep sewage out of your drinking water. And if you must touch someone, apply baby wipes to your hands immediately subsequent, like Adrian Monk.