Tag: vitamin A

Jim Meehan Supporting a Farmer Helps Explain the Deaths in Samoa

In case you need to be caught up, there is a measles epidemic in Samoa and over 50 kids have already died.

While that easily dwarfs the number of deaths in many other countries, where there have been thousands of deaths, Samoa has been getting some extra attention because some of the blame rests with anti-vax influence on the island nation.

Taylor Winterstein compared the plan to vaccinate everyone against measles to stop the outbreak to Nazi Germany!

Samoa even got a visit from Bobby Kennedy last June!

Jim Meehan Supporting a Farmer Helps Explain the Deaths in Samoa

It is even more amazing that many of these folks have been doubling down on their anti-vax activism even as measles deaths have continued to climb.

Edwin Tamasese is an holistic healer in Samoa.
I wonder what Jim Meehan thinks caused those birth defects in Brazil…

It seems that Edwin Tamasese, a farmer in Samoa who is also described as a holistic healer, is being advised on how to treat kids with measles by James Meehan, an ophthalmologist in Oklahoma who now practices integrative and functional medicine.

How do either have the training or background to help sick kids in a measles epidemic?

That they don’t is easy to see from Meehan’s letter of support…

The last thing folks in Samoa need is advice from Jim Meehan!
The last thing folks in Samoa need is advice from Jim Meehan!

Wait, why would anyone vaccinate a child who was already infected with measles?

Probably because it is a part of routine measles postexposure prophylaxis guidelines. In fact, giving a dose of MMR within a few days of exposure to someone with measles can reduce their risk of getting sick with measles or of developing complications of measles.

Of course, you wouldn’t actually give the MMR vaccine to someone who was already sick with measles though. Instead of simply being infected with measles, that would be someone with measles disease.

Big difference!

Antibiotics don't treat viral infections, but they do treat secondary bacterial diseases and superinfections that often complicate measles infections.

There are no indications for antibiotics to treat uncomplicated viral diseases, unfortunately, secondary bacterial diseases can occur and do need to be treated.

“These results document that MV infection can suppress both innate and adaptive immune responses and lead to increased susceptibility to bacterial infection.”

Slifka et al on Measles virus infection results in suppression of both innate and adaptive immune responses to secondary bacterial infection

In fact, it is these secondary bacterial super-infections, including pneumonia and mastoiditis, that can make measles so deadly.

“Mortality from measles is predominantly caused by complicating bacterial infections.”

Factsheet about measles

It is a big reason that kids with measles, a viral infection, likely need to be treated with antibiotics.

It is typically only recommended that parents treat fever if their child is very uncomfortable.
It is typically only recommended that parents treat fever if their child is very uncomfortable.

Kids with measles typically have a high fever and are very irritable.

While we have been moving towards an approach of letting fevers run their course these days, in case fever does have some beneficial effects, there are also studies that have shown that in critically ill patients, fever is associated with increased mortality.

Measles is not mutating.
Mutating measles? Where have we heard that before?

Why do we genotype measles strains?

So that we know where outbreaks originated from.

Unlike some other infections, the genotype doesn’t help you figure out whether or not the vaccine will work against it. Measles is a monotypic virus. The MMR vaccine protects against all measles strains.

“The outbreaks in Samoa and Tonga are caused by the D8 strain (genotype) of measles virus.”

Measles Outbreak in the Pacific – Situation Report No 2, 26 November 2019

An no, for the millionth time, 38% of the measles cases in the Disneyland outbreak were not caused by the vaccine strain!

Those folks with the vaccine strain were the ones who were recently vaccinated and had a “febrile rash illness,” a common side effect of the vaccine.

They did not have measles!

While vaccinating someone who is truly immunosuppressed with a live vaccine is contraindicated, it seems like Meehan thinks that most of the folks on Samoa are immunosuppressed and shouldn’t be vaccinated!

The kids are dying because they aren't vaccinated and protected!
Not the measles virus??? The kids are dying because they aren’t vaccinated and protected!

There is a state of emergency in Samoa that has closed schools, banned public gatherings, and mandated vaccines, as they attempt to get their measles epidemic under control. They are also getting help from UNICEF, the New Zealand Red Cross, UK’s Emergency Medical Team (UK EMT), the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT), and the New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT).

More help is coming from the CDC and the EUCPM.

How much vitamin C are the kids on Tamasese's protocol getting?
How much vitamin C are these kids getting? 3000mg? 5000mg? Since too much vitamin C causes diarrhea and nausea, how much will they take “until stomach runs?” Diarrhea and dehydration are already complications of measles…

They do not need folks like Tamasese and Meehan interfering with these efforts because they think they can do it better, even as they scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids – the one thing that will end the epidemic.

It should be noted that as much as anti-vax folks are crowing about Tamasese and Meehan’s efforts to get kids vitamin A, their protocol severely under doses kids!

The WHO has a protocol for giving kids high doses of vitamin A when they have measles.
The WHO has a protocol for giving kids high doses of vitamin A when they have measles.

Anyway, mega doses of vitamin A are most helpful in reducing mortality in hospitalized kids with measles. It is also important to keep in mind that vitamin A only reduces mortality – it doesn’t eliminate it. Vitamin A is not a cure for measles.

And the mega doses of vitamin C they are giving aren’t going to help prevent complications. They are just giving the kids diarrhea, which is not a good thing if they might already be malnourished!

What’s the biggest takeaway from the Samoa epidemic?

As we see more measles, we will see more people die with measles.

Measles is deadly.

This type of anti-vax propaganda is the reason that parents might think that vaccines are toxic...
This type of anti-vax propaganda is the reason that parents might think that vaccines are toxic…

Get vaccinated and protected with two doses of MMR and prevent these outbreaks.

More on Jim Meehan and Samoa

The Measles Epidemic in Samoa

The measles epidemic in Samoa isn’t the worst we have seen lately.

There are now 53 deaths in the Samoa measles epidemic.

Although everyone is now talking about Samoa, let’s remember that there has been a rise in measles cases all over the world and that there have been:

And most of those deaths have been in children.

The Measles Epidemic in Samoa

Measles is on the rise.

Not surprisingly, deaths from measles are also on the rise.

UNICEF delivered vaccines and sufficient supplies of vitamin A to Samoa back in October.
UNICEF delivered vaccines and sufficient supplies of vitamin A to Samoa back in October.

What’s different about Samoa is that they continue to be targeted by anti-vax folks, even as it is easy to see that anti-vaccine messaging helped contribute to this measles epidemic.

Anti-vaccine fears helped fuel the Samoa measles epidemic.

Sure, the recent mistake involving the nurses who incorrectly mixed up the MMR vaccine with an anesthetic instead of the proper diluent didn’t help, but anti-vax folks exploited that tragedy to scare parents even more.

Bobby Kennedy visited Samoa in June...
Bobby Kennedy visited Samoa in June…

So we now have a measles epidemic and low vaccination rates in a poor, developing country, with limited health care services.

Anti-vaxxers often ask if anyone died when there is an outbreak...
Anti-vaxxers often ask if anyone died when there is an outbreak…

And a lot of measles deaths as they struggle to get the epidemic under control by closing schools and banning public gatherings, and starting a compulsory, mass vaccination campaign.

Taylor Winterstein's anti-vaccine talking points sound all too familiar.
Taylor Winterstein‘s anti-vaccine talking points sound all too familiar.

A vaccination campaign that anti-vax folks are saying is somehow turning Samoa into Nazi Germany…

Scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the middle of a deadly epidemic is not only dangerous, it's immoral.
Scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the middle of a deadly epidemic is not only dangerous, it’s immoral.

As anti-vax folks double down, even as kids die in these epidemics, know that you can help stop them by no longer spreading their propaganda and instead choosing to support vaccine advocacy groups.

Send an international wire transfer from your bank to the BSP GOS Direct Transfer Fund Account to help their Measles Emergency Operations.
Send an international wire transfer from your bank to the BSP GOS Direct Transfer Fund Account to help their Measles Emergency Operations.

And consider donating to Samoa’s Measles Emergency Options and the organizations that are helping control this epidemic, including UNICEF and the New Zealand Red Cross.

Mostly remember that in addition to working to control these epidemics, we can prevent them if more people get vaccinated and protected. After all, measles is a vaccine-preventable disease.

More on the Measles Epidemic in Samoa

How Many People Have Died from Measles in 2019?

As measles cases climb, some folks are interested in just one thing, how many people have died from measles this year?

A lot of people are dying from measles this year.
A lot of people are dying from measles this year.

The rest of us?

We understand that as we see more and more cases, it simply increases the chances that someone might eventually die.

How Many People Have Died from Measles in 2019?

So far, we have been very lucky that there have been no measles deaths, even as we are well past 1,000 cases.

Not that 1,000 cases is some magic number where you start to see deaths.

Consider that we only had 188 cases in 2015, when we had the last measles death in the United States. That year, a woman got caught up in a small outbreak in Washington.

Where Are People Dying of Measles in 2019?

There are also many countries with rather small numbers of cases that are seeing measles deaths.

In Samoa, a country that stopped vaccinating last year after two infants tragically died when they got a powerful anesthetic instead of the diluent for the MMR vaccine, four people have died already. Four deaths among about 314 cases, including a 14-month-old, 12-month-old, and an 8-month-old.

And don’t forget that the last death in France, in April 2019, occurred after only 852 cases were reported.

In Romania, the first death of 2019, in January, came after just 133 cases.

Measles acts quickly. Do your part to protect yourself and others.

And since the outbreaks in Europe started in 2016, there have been deaths in:

  • Bulgaria – only 416 cases
  • Portugal – only 202 cases
  • Spain – only 457 cases
  • Switzerland – two deaths and only 197 cases!
  • Hungary – only 24 cases!

Of course, there are more deaths in countries that are seeing more cases.

Again, since 2016:

CountryDeathsCases
Romania6418,502
Greece43,270
Italy139,277
France44,138
UK12,000
Germany35,000 (since 2015)
Israel34,292 (since 2018)
Ukraine41115,000 (2017)
Serbia155,797 (since Oct 2017)
Brazil1219,036 (since 2018)
Tunisia303,141 (2019)
Malaysia62,129 (since 2017)
Thailand235,893 (since 2018)
Guinea141,359 cases (2019)
Liberia51,357 cases (2019)
Uganda51,584 cases (2019)
Samoa4314 (2019)

And a lot more deaths in some countries:

  • Madagascarat least 1,233 reported deaths among over 150,000 registered cases
  • Philippines – at least 676 deaths since 2018, with over 55,000 cases.
  • Venezuela – at least 134 deaths since 2017, with over 9,585 cases
  • Democratic Republic of Congo – over 4,000 deaths this year, with over 200,000 cases
  • Nigeria – at least 275 deaths this year, with over 54,000 cases
  • Chadat least 241 deaths this year, with over 24,000 cases
  • South Sudan – 91 deaths among 2,472 cases since November 2018
  • Niger – 53 deaths among 9,741 cases in 2019
  • Angola – at least 64 deaths this year, with over 3,000 cases

Measles is on the rise.

Measles is on the rise in many parts of the world and so are measles deaths.
Measles is on the rise in many parts of the world and so are measles deaths.

Measles deaths are on the rise too. While the risk of complications of measles can be reduced with vitamin A treatment, that doesn’t eliminate them. And the benefit is mostly in those who are already vitamin A deficient. Vitamin A has a much more modest effect in developed countries, where measles deaths still occur.

What to reduce your child’s risk of dying from measles?

Get them vaccinated and protected.

Tragically, this all comes after we were making progress towards measles elimination, reaching a record low for global cases and deaths just a few years ago.

How will we respond? An even stronger effort to finally get measles under control? Or continued worsening, with more cases and more deaths?

More on Measles Deaths in 2019

More Measles Myths

It’s kind of sad that some folks still believe many of the measles myths that were being told in 1963.

Folks once accepted measles as inevitable because they had no choice, but that changed when we got a vaccine.
Measles was long known as a harmless killer

Wait, measles isn’t harmless?

But what about that Brady Bunch episode!?!

More Measles Myths

What other myths about measles have you heard?

Have you heard that folks never worried about measles before we had a vaccine? That it never even made the newspaper?

There were newspaper articles warning about measles in 1959 - a measles year.

The other myths they push are just as easily disproven

Which of these myths do you believe?

Which ones are keeping you from vaccinating and protecting your kids?

More on Measles Myths