FDA commisionner Margaret Hamburg schools us on measles and the measles vaccine!! #science

hamburgMargaret A. Hamburg, M.D., the Commissioner of Food and Drugs at the FDA, has written a terrific piece in response to the recent measles outbreak. Check it out here at the FDA blog. Hamburg emphasizes the importance of high vaccination rates, the safety of the vaccines, and the effectiveness of the vaccine!

In recent weeks we’ve seen an alarming outbreak of measles; a highly contagious and serious virus, especially in babies and young children who have not been vaccinated. This outbreak is particularly disturbing because measles was effectively eliminated from the United States in 2000 thanks to nearly universal vaccination, the single best way to prevent the spread of this disease.

Vaccination works with the body’s natural defenses to help it safely develop immunity to the measles. When more people are vaccinated, there are fewer opportunities for the disease to spread. A community generally needs more than ninety per cent of its members to be immunized against the virus in order to protect those who can’t be.

Before the first measles vaccine was approved in 1963, hundreds died from the disease each year. Others developed pneumonia, lifelong brain damage or deafness.

Let’s not return to these grim statistics. There is no shortage of measles vaccine. It should be used by everyone who has not been vaccinated to prevent measles and the potentially tragic consequences of the disease.

One more reason not to use heroin: anthrax contamination @thebodyhorrors #science

krestonr2

Another informative post from Rebecca Kreston on Body Horrors blog! This time Kreston looks at common contamination of illicit drugs… including a cases of heroin accidentally laced with anthrax. Ooops.

But there is one microbe in particular, one that boasts a tabloid-worthy reputation, that has made a series of unexpected appearances in the past few years among heroin users: anthrax.

Check out the post for tons of info on anthrax, and how its getting into illegal heroin on our streets.

Anthrax is widely feared for its potential as an agent of bioterrorism; the media-induced panic attack that is occasionally invoked usually relies on images of shadowy terrorist cells spraying spores from planes above cities or perhaps into malls filled with aimless shoppers. However, this frightful microbe’s recent entry into our communities was far more insidious and unexpected, relying on an altogether different type of illicit network that spreads harm.

New England alone has seen a huge increase in heroin use over the last year or so, with the Governor’s taking action to fight the epidemic use of the drug. Hopefully the heroin isn’t contaminated….