Pertussis Epidemic affecting California and much of the US
Another day, another vaccine-preventable illness is on the rise. I described the current measles outbreak in an earlier post , and so that we do not run of out diseases to discuss, a new one has recently captured media attention. So far in 2014, 3,498 cases of Whooping Cough, or Pertussis, have been reported in California – more than all that were reported in 2013, Nationally, 24% more cases have been reported than in January to April 2013. Pertussis outbreaks occur cyclically, peaking every 3-5 years, with the last peak in 2010. A vaccine-preventable disease, Pertussis infection begins as a cold-like illness associated with mild cough and fever. Within 1-2 weeks, however, the severe, characteristic cough begins and can continue for weeks. Infants, however, may not cough, but may suffer from dangerous fits of apnea, or pauses in breathing. In vaccinated children the symptoms’ duration and severity is lessened. The CDC’s website further describes the disease characteristics.
White House Responds to Plea from Public Health Schools
In January 2013, deans from 13 schools of public health sent a letter to the White House declaring that it was dangerous and unethical to use public health workers for military intelligence gathering of any kind. This concern was prompted by the discovery that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used a sham vaccination campaign against Hepatitis B in 2011 to gather DNA samples in Pakistan for the purpose of finding Osama bin Laden’s hiding compound.
After the fictitious campaign was discovered, the fragile trust that public health workers had managed to build, particularly those providing vaccines, was completely shattered in Pakistan and elsewhere. The Taliban banned health workers, villagers kept them away from their children, and some volunteers were even killed out of fear that they were spies or were attempting to sterilize young girls.