INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Many Factors Aid Spread of Disease
Shunning vaccines and using antibacterial soaps are contributing to the spread of disease and the birth of "dangerous, drug-resistant germs," according to infectious disease experts, the New York Times reports. Speaking yesterday during an American Medical Association briefing, Dr. Bruce Gellin, executive director of the National Network for Immunization Information at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said that the belief that vaccines might be linked to some disorders like diabetes and autism is "needlessly alarming parents and making some reluctant to vaccinate their children." But he noted that illness after vaccination is merely a coincidence, pointing out that "even a small drop in the vaccination rate could lead to a resurgence of diseases like measles and whooping cough" (Grady, 6/2). Gellin said that a hearing held by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) in April, during which activists linked a rise in autism to increased childhood vaccination, "could lead many to believe such fears were valid," when in fact no studies have proven that link. Gellin said, "What was unfortunate about that particular hearing is that I don't believe it represented the balance of science." But he added that parents are right to ask questions about the production and testing of vaccines (Fox, Reuters/Contra Costa Times, 6/2).
Another cause of disease spread might be the use of antibacterial soaps because such products only kill the weakest bacteria, leaving the strongest ones to multiply, Dr. Stuart Levy, director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at Tufts University, said. He added that bacteria resistant to antibacterial products also are resistant to some antibiotics. Widespread use of antibacterials "may be contributing to the rise in infections that are difficult or impossible to treat," Levy noted. He advised consumers to stop buying antibacterials and manufacturers to halt production of those products (New York Times, 6/2).