A report has come out detailing that more than 70 people have come down with the mumps in NY and NJ. 

If only we had a vaccine to stop these outbreaks!  Oh wait, we do and started using the first incarnation of the vaccine in 1950. Currently Merck produces the Mumpsvax product for use in the US. Now I’ll note that a large percentage (75%) of the people who came down with the disease have been reported to have been fully immunized, but I suspect that the antibody response has waned since getting the vaccine as a young child. Most victims have been 10-15 years old and the age range of the infectd has been from 1 to 40.

The child who originally came down with the mumps was attending a summer camp in Britain where vaccine rates are so low that many diseases have been once again declared endemic (most notably the measles). This started in the 90’s with Andrew Wakefield trying his best to fudge the science and blame the MMR vaccine for autism. Though his numbers have been shown to be manipulated, multiple studies have not found an association between the two, and Wakefield’s competing interests have been outed there still is a large sentiment in portions of the country that resist getting vaccinated.  This leads to outbreaks like this.


HPV Safety
One of my favorite places on the internet, the Information is Beautiful Blog, has put up a great graphic about the safety of the HPV vaccine. If you are a visual person (that means everyone) then head over to check out the full version of this graphic which displays the risk of vaccine injury from Gardasil, the HPV vaccine in the US.

With all the kookiness that surrounds the vaccine debate it is nice to see some easily translatable information available to the public and David is usually in the lead with putting together great visuals just for this purpose, to make a visual impact out of the data.

If you’re interested in the HPV vaccine, vaccine safety in general, or how to make stunning visuals that easily and poignantly convey information then it is a must that you head over to the site and browse around.

Lesion in human cervical epithelium infected with human  papilloma virus (HPV16). Early viral proteins (green) bind to and re-orgainse the ketatin filaments (red) towards the edge of the cell. Via Wellcome Images

Lesion in human cervical epithelium infected with human papilloma virus (HPV16). Early viral proteins (green) bind to and re-orgainse the ketatin filaments (red) towards the edge of the cell. Via Wellcome Images

I remember when Texas Governor Rick Perry decided to make it mandatory for 11 and 12 year old girls to receive the Gardasil HPV vaccine. It caused a huge ruckus throughout the state mainly from the Libertarians and conservative Christians. Needless to say, there are enough Christians in the state to make a pretty big scene and Gov. Perry was under some hot water with this decision.

Gardasil is a quadrivalent vaccine, meaning it can protect against 4 different types of HPV infections (types 6, 11, 16, and 18) which cause somewhere around 70% of all cervical cancers. These strains have also been shown to cause vulvar, vaginal, penile and anal (a big one to worry about in the gay male community) cancers and an estimated 6.2 million people a year are newly infected. The vaccine has proven to be highly effective and the largest clinical trial was halted because it was decided to be ethically wrong to be giving girls the placebo instead of the actual treatment due to such successful results. Currently the WHO lists cervical cancer as the 5th leading cause of death in women around the world.

The religious right has decided that mandatory vaccination will lead to adolescent females having more sex, have more unsafe sex, and it will generally promote a lax view towards sex in the pre-teen and early teen population. I’m not going to address why this belief is ridiculous (maybe we should outlaw condoms as well?) because most (more…)