Tag Archives: Vaccination

The Dangers of Homeopathic Vaccinations For Pets

My two dogs - Rory & Caleb

As an ex-vet nurse and “mum” to my two dogs, there is one thing that can get me to boiling point faster than anything else and that is people who don’t take care of their pets and provide them with adequate medical treatment when required.

Therefore, when @drunkenmadman posted a link to a place selling homeopathic vaccinations for pets my blood began to boil.

Pet Homeopath has for sale homeopathic vaccinations for distemper & parvovirus as well as preventives for heartworm and ticks.  All of the above are deadly, especially for dogs.  With the exception of distemper, I have seen dogs die of parvovirus, heartworm and ticks in my old vet practice located in Sydney.  All because owners did not either vaccinate against parvo or give their dogs heartworm medication (I can’t say anything horrible about owners whose dogs suffer ticks bites because they are damn near impossible to prevent).

So, why am I against these homeopathic vaccinations?  Because homeopathy is complete bullocks.  They don’t contain any active ingredient whatsoever.  It isn’t herbal medication, it is just water and sugar – that’s it.  Water & sugar is not going to prevent your dog during an outbreak of parvovirus which occurs every summer without fail in Sydney.

Parvovirus has a kill rate of about 50%.  It really is pure luck if your dog survives a bout of parvovirus.  The best vets can do is to put your dog on a drip and just watch as it shits and vomits out all the water content in its body.  It is one of the most gruesome ways a dog can die (and I used to watch about 20 dogs die from it each summer) and yet it is totally preventable by one yearly vaccination.

Heartworm is spread by mozzies and I don’t need to tell anyone who lives in Australia that we have a hell of a lot of mozzies.  You can’t prevent stop your dog  from being bit by a mozzie, so why risk it?  Heartworm can be prevented by one yearly vaccination or a once month spot on application.  It’s that simple and easy.  The treatment if your dog does get heartworm is extremely hard on dogs and can kill them.

Yes, there are side effects to vaccinations, but they are extremely rare in dogs.  The vast majority of dogs handle their vaccinations just fine and the once yearly trip to the vet to get them also includes a general check up so you can catch any other potential problems early.

Don’t think that by using homeopathic vaccinations that you are doing the best thing for your dog by giving them something natural. Yes, water is natural & has no side-effects but it is not going to prevent them from contracting deadly diseases.  Do the right thing and get them properly vaccinated once a year, every year.

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The Jenny McCarthy Body Count

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and to share their opinion to everyone that they want to.  However, when you are a celebrity, for better or worse, your opinion carries more weight than the average person on the street.  Therefore, celebrities should think before they speak and should research their opinions before they relate them to the media.

Enter, Jenny McCarthy, a once minor celebrity on MTV and now a major anti-vaccination proponent.  She has a son with autism, which she attributes to childhood vaccinations.  She has appeared on Oprah numerous times since 2007 preaching the fact that vaccinations are dangerous and encouraging parents not to vaccinate their children.  Thanks to Jenny McCarthy and people like her, the rate of vaccination in the US and other developed countries has fallen to levels where previously rare diseases are making a comeback.  Jenny McCarthy has a body count to her name.

Oprah, you don’t get away scott free either.  You have given this quack a platform to preach her dangerous ideas to millions of parents worldwide. You  don’t offer any other viewpoint nor do you challenge her views.  Shame on you.

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The Latest Round in the Vaccination War

Tensions have flared once again between those that support vaccinations and those that oppose them with the publication in WIRED magazine of an article by Amy Wallace entitled “An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All.  This well researched article which is part interview with vaccine co-inventor Paul Offit and part vaccine history lesson has the anti-vaccination fringe all upset.  They are so upset in fact that J.B. Handley, the founder of Generation Rescue, an anti-vaccine group has written in the blog Age of Autism a commentary piece originally entitled “Paul Offit Rapes (intellectually) Amy Wallace and Wired Magazine.” which has now been toned down to just ” Wired Magazine and Amy Wallace Drink Paul Offit’s Kool-Aid”.   The line ‘the roofie cocktails at Paul Offit’s house must be damn good’ has been removed and now Amy is just innocently sipping Paul’s kool-aid rather than being date-raped.

It is interesting to see that a female journalist who writes a scientific piece that others disagree with has sexual references made about her whilst male journalists usually just get their credibility called into question.  In fact this point has been taken up by Abel Pharmboy in his insightful post, “When critics disagree with me, I’m a Pharma Shill.  When critics disagree with a woman it gets sexual.” The sexual name calling doesn’t stop with Handley’s horrible article, unfortunately.  Amy has received many letters in which is called a prostitute, a whore and other even more terrible things after the publication of her article.  She has now started twittering sections of letters both in support of and opposing her article.   Bastard Sheep has done and excellent job chronicling her tweets and putting them in a more readable format.  They are compelling reading.

For those interested in reading a great opinion piece about the tensions that have flared up over Wallace’s article, check out Science-Based Medicine’s post, “The effectiveness wordsmithing of Amy Wallace”.

For me, as someone new to the vaccination information war, this latest ‘battle’ has been very eye-opening in terms of how each side presents their arguments and responds to arguments from the other side.  As someone who has a science degree, I am always going to find solid scientific facts much more compelling than hearsay and personal anecdotes.  However, the behaviour of the anti-vaccination groups has made me realise that if the only way you can try to win a fight is to resort to name calling and other dirty tactics then you must not hold a lot of faith that your arguments can stand up to critical analysis.

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The Dangers Of Not Vaccinating Your Child

The anti-vaccination movement has gained popularity in recent years with Jenny McCarthy in the US (who frequently appears on Oprah) and the Australian Vaccination Network here in Australia.  They encourage parents not to vaccinate their children through misinformation and fear.

For instance, this is what the AVN have to say about the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination

Unlike vaccination (which offers only temporary immunity), the natural occurrence of each of these diseases (all non-threatening illnesses in early childhood) generally results in lifelong immunity.

According to the AVN measles, mumps and rubella are all non-threatening illnesses – illnesses that can not harm your child.  Now let’s actually look at the scientific data on the effects of measles, mumps and rubella in children and adults.

Firstly measles.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) says

    Measles is a leading cause of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available to prevent the disease.

      In 2007, there were 197 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 540 deaths every day or 22 deaths every hour.

        22 kids die every hour from measles.  Does that sound like a non-threatening illness to you?  Complications from measles can also cause blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

        With mumps, death is extremely rare but some serious complications can occur such as deafness, sterility (both male and female), meningitis and pancreatitis.

        With rubella, the people most at risk are pregnant women and their unborn baby. There is a 90% chance of a pregnant woman passing rubella onto their unborn baby.  Rubella causes deafness in the unborn child and can also cause defects in the eyes, heart, and brain.

        So how does that compare to the complications that the MMR vaccination can cause?

        Medinfo has a fantastic table which I have replicated here.

        Complications Risk after natural disease Risk after first dose of MMR
        Fits (convulsions) 1 in 200 1 in 1000
        Meningitis / encephalitis 1 in 200 to 1 in 5000 1 in 1000000
        Conditions affecting the clotting of the blood 1 in 3000 1 in 24000
        Severe allergic response (anaphylaxis) 1 in 100000
        Deaths 1 in 8000 to 1 in 10000 (depends on age) 0

        To me, there is no contest, the vaccine is far safer than the diseases it is preventing.

        So far, we have just investigated the risks to the child who is getting the vaccination, but what about the risks to the wider community?  This is a topic that is largely ignored by the anti-vaccination movement.

        There is a heart-breaking article in the Slate by Stephanie Tatel, the mother of a 2 1/2 year old boy who has leukemia.  Because of the chemotherapy her son is receiving, he can not be vaccinated nor does his body have the number of white blood cells to be able fight diseases like measles, whopping cough and chicken pox.  If he contracts any of these diseases his chance of surviving them is very low.  Therefore, he can not go to child care because of unvaccinated children also at the centre.  When he becomes school age, his parents have to make the decision to risk sending him to school where unvaccinated children will be in attendance.  Even visiting a doctor’s surgery could be deadly for this kid if another child sitting in the waiting room has chicken pox or whopping cough.

        Then there are the sad cases of children too young to receive vaccinations dying from whopping cough and measles because of unvaccinated kids and adults.  Kids too young to be vaccinated rely on the herd immunity of their community to keep them safe from these deadly diseases, but as more and more people go unvaccinated, the herd immunity drops to a level where it no longer offers any protection.  There was a horrible case in March this year of a 4 week old infant dying of whooping cough because of the herd immunity in NSW had dropped so low that there is now an epidemic.  This little girl should not have died from a disease that can be so easily prevented through vaccinations.

        Parents should investigate vaccinations before getting their child vaccinated, but instead of only getting one side of the story from the anti-vax groups about the small risk of harm a vaccine might do a child, they should also be told about the much greater risk that the diseases pose to both the child and to the wider community.