The study they are citing, Rapid Identification of Measles Virus Vaccine Genotype by Real-Time PCR, simply talks about how to “distinguish between measles cases and vaccine reactions.”
“During measles outbreak investigations, rapid detection of measles vaccine reactions is necessary to avoid unnecessary public health interventions.”
Rapid Identification of Measles Virus Vaccine Genotype by Real-Time PCR
While many of these people do test positive for a vaccine strain, they do not actually have measles. They typically just have a rash and/or fever, with a concern that they might have measles because they are in the middle of a measles outbreak.
But if they have a rash and fever and test positive for measles, even if it is a vaccine strain, why shouldn’t we just say that they have measles?
Because measles isn’t just about having a rash and fever. It is having a specific pattern of a high fever for 3 or 4 days, then developing a rash, and continuing to have a fever. People with measles also typically have other symptoms, including irritability, cough, coryza, and conjunctivitis.
Confirmed Case Counts in Measles Outbreaks
Still, since these measles vaccine reactions can get confused with real measles cases, do they inflate the measles case counts in our outbreaks?
While we occasionally do see a “confirmed” case later change as further testing is done, it is important to realize that most cases are thoroughly evaluated to see if they are in fact really measles.
Most case counts are made up of confirmed cases and don’t include suspected cases that might be someone who has a rash after their MMR vaccine or some other viral infection.
“Vaccine‐associated measles is a possible, but extremely rare event.”
Sood et al on Vaccine‐associated measles in an immunocompetent child
Anyway, vaccine induced or vaccine associated measles is extremely rare.
What about the fully vaccinated woman in New York who developed measles, getting four other people sick in 2011?
Didn’t she have vaccine induced measles?
“This is the first report of measles transmission from a twice-vaccinated individual with documented secondary vaccine failure. The clinical presentation and laboratory data of the index patient were typical of measles in a naive individual. “
Rosen et al on Outbreak of Measles Among Persons With Prior Evidence of Immunity, New York City, 2011
She had the D4 strain of measles – not a vaccine strain.
Why would anyone want to try and treat tetanus without a tetanus shot?
That’s a good question…
Why would a doctor tell others that tetanus could be treated without a tetanus shot?
That might be a question for a state medical board…
Can You Treat Tetanus Without a Tetanus Shot?
As most people will notice, even looking at the ironically named Physicians for Informed Consent’s own post, you don’t treat tetanus without a tetanus shot.
“Tetanus is a medical emergency requiring hospitalization, immediate treatment with human tetanus immune globulin (TIG), agents to control muscle spasm, aggressive wound care, antibiotics, and a tetanus toxoid booster. If tetanus immune globulin is unavailable, Immune Globulin Intravenous (IGIV) can be used.”
CDC on Tetanus for Clinicians
Even in the study that they used as a reference clearly used both tetanus immune globulin and a tetanus shot.
What might be confusing to some folks, is that tetanus toxoid, is synonymous (has the same meaning) as:
Td (tetanus toxoid + diphtheria toxoid)
So like most people with tetanus, this patient received both tetanus immune globulin and a tetanus vaccine, a fact I tried to point out so that visitors to Physicians for Informed Consent could get true informed consent about their vaccine choices.
And fortunately, the patient, who’s previous immunization history was unknown, got better!
Treating Tetanus With a Tetanus Shot
Why did he have tetanus?
The case they are talking about occurred in Japan, and again, it isn’t known if the patient had ever received a tetanus vaccine.
“In Japan, tetanus toxoid was introduced in 1968, so elderly adults who were born before 1968 have high risk of tetanus.”
Tomoda et al. on Tetanus without apparent history of trauma
He was born in 1950 and although he had no history of recent trauma, “he grew vegetables in a field as his hobby.”
As most people know, gardening is a risk factor for getting tetanus.
And with such a long incubation period, it is very likely that he had a minor wound or injury while gardening, was exposed to tetanus spores, and later developed tetanus symptoms.
The long incubation period is also the reason that giving a tetanus vaccine works to prevent you from getting tetanus even after you have been exposed. Tetanus spores have to germinate, the bacteria have to grow and then produce exotoxins. And then the exotoxins have to travel to different sites in your nervous system, where they act as neurotoxins.
Hopefully, before they do, the dose of tetanus vaccine you got when you pricked your finger on a thorn, stepped on a nail, or cut your leg, etc., will have already induced you to start making antibodies against the exotoxins – antitoxin. Just in case they don’t, in a high risk case, you also would have gotten a dose of tetanus immune globulin for an immediate dose of antitoxin – antibodies against the exotoxins.
The same thing happens if you have already developed tetanus symptoms. A dose of tetanus immune globulin helps to neutralize neurotoxins that haven’t already started doing damage, and you get supportive care until you recover. Plus antibiotics to kill the bacteria so they won’t make more exotoxins and a tetanus shot.
Why not just give tetanus immune globulin, as the post from Physicians for Informed Consent implied you can do?
It is mostly because a tetanus infection doesn’t stimulate any natural immunity and the immunity you get from tetanus immune globulin is temporary, so won’t prevent a relapsing or recurrent case.
And because no one would substitute a treatment that is known to work well, a tetanus vaccine with tetanus immune globulin, and switch it out for one that might be riskier and have no extra benefits.
Using immune globulin alone was once the recommended treatment. That was before the tetanus vaccine was developed though. Back then, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, folks with suspected tetanus got treated with anti-tetanic serum that was made in horses. The main problem with this tetanus antitoxin was that it could sometimes trigger serum sickness.
“This case had no apparent portal of entry; there was no history of trauma, and no site was found on physical examination. However, this is not uncommon; no obvious entry site was reported in approximately 26% of cases in Japan.”
Tomoda et al. on Tetanus without apparent history of trauma
And not specific to Japan, that you can get tetanus without a history of trauma should be what really concerns folks in this article that the Physicians for Informed Consent has decided to spotlight.