Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vaccinations are vital.

In the US there is increasing concern about the prevalence and spread of West Nile Virus.This is a very nasty infection spread by Mosquitoes and which has no known treatment and currently, no obvious cure - although there are vaccines for similar mosquito-spread viruses which does give a modicum of hope for an eventual breakthrough. So far there have been 700 cases of West Nile Virus reported this year with many sufferers contracting meningitis or encephalitis. Since it first appeared in the US back in 1999, 3 million people have been infected and much research is currently being carried out into the mechanisms of the disease and ways of developing an effective vaccine.

Down in Western Australia we are battling with a much older foe - Whooping Cough - which this year has affected over 4,000 people, mainly children. This is a disaster on any public health level! Whooping cough is a contagious disease that should have been eradicated decades ago if parents had listened to professional advice and had their infants correctly immunized. Now, thanks to misinformation, there is a large group of non-immunized children in the community that has provided fertile ground for the spread of this potentially deadly disease.

Whooping cough is not just a bad cough that sounds like a "Whoop": it is an awful illness where the sufferer coughs, vomits, goes blue and is exhausted for sometimes up to 6 months! For most of my professional career it was a rarity to come across an isolated case, but over 4,000 officially confirmed cases in less than 12 months has returned it to centre stage. Yes, there is a significant group of older people who can suffer from a less severe form of Whooping Cough as their childhood immunity has waned over the decades, but the only reason their immunity has waned is because they failed to keep up to date with their immunizations!

It is imperative that all parents vaccinate their children against the infectious diseases of childhood that are known to put their lives at serious risk, and if you have any doubts then seek professional advice from those who know about how serious these infectious diseases are. It is just as important that all adults maintain a good level of immunity to community acquired infectious diseases too because when you protect yourself, you break a link in the progression of the disease to another. Again, if you have any concerns, ask someone who knows about infectious diseases and not someone who heard something about a neighbour who read a magazine article .......

In the US much effort is now going into finding an effective vaccination against West Nile Virus - a relatively new disease for that country. Lets hope that when it does arrive, it is rapidly and effectively used in the communities where it is most needed.

Vaccinations save lives: and when you get vaccinated, it's not just your life you're saving, you're protecting your neighbour too.

Ampersands & angle brackets need to be encoded.

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