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New Study: Shingles Vaccine Is Safe And Effective

Shingles (herpes zoster) is no fun. It usually begins with a couple of days of pain, then a painful rash breaks out and lasts a couple of weeks. The rash consists of blisters that eventually break open, crust over, and consolidate into an ugly plaque. It is localized to one side of the body and to a stripe of skin corresponding to the dermatomal distribution of a sensory nerve.

Very rarely a shingles infection can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death. More commonly, patients develop postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) in the area where the rash was. The overall incidence of PHN is 20%; after the age of 60 this rises to 40%, and after age 70 it rises to 50%. It can be excruciatingly painful, resistant to treatment, and can last for years or even a lifetime. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Why Denying Science Is Dangerous

I came across a TED video of Michael Specter’s talk about the dangers confronting us as the war against science progresses. Here’s TED’s description of the video:

Vaccine-autism claims, “frankenfood” bans, the herbal cure craze — they all point to the public’s growing fear (and, often, outright denial) of science and reason, says Michael Specter. He warns the trend spells disaster for human progress.

Read more about The Danger of Science Denial, posted with vodpod.

*This blog post was originally published at Phil Baumann*

Why Fighting HIV/AIDS Is So Challenging

When I began work on this month’s project, I contacted a clinician, a case manager, and a scientist to get their perspectives on how we’re making progress fighting HIV and AIDS. I’ve introduced you to the clinician and the case manager, but not the scientist.

Dave Wessner doesn’t actually study AIDS, but he’s written a textbook supplement on HIV and AIDS and teaches a course at Davidson College on the subject. His students have even set up a blog discussing the history and science of HIV and AIDS. He also regularly lectures on the topic. I’ll be attending one of his talks tonight. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Daily Monthly*

Trial Lawyers Paid Scientist To Falsify Data So They Could Sue Vaccine Manufacturers

You may have heard about Andrew Wakefield who tried to find a link between MMR vaccines and autism. He has published several papers. Now it turns out he acted unethically in carrying out his research according to a medical regulator.

Doctor Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 study, published in the Lancet medical journal, said there might be a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) injection and autism.

The suggestion horrified parents and led to a slump in the number of youngsters getting the jab, as well as triggering heated debate in medical circles.

In a ruling Thursday, the General Medical Council attacked Wakefield for “unethical” research methods and for showing a “callous disregard” for the youngsters as he carried out tests.

This included taking blood samples from children at his son’s birthday party for five-pound payments.

Why am I writing about it?

Because we all have to learn from this. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Vi Typhoid Vaccine: Safe And Effective For Young Children

Vaccination against infectious diseases is perhaps the most important reason why millions of additional persons do not succumb with morbidity and mortality from viral and bacterial infections in the modern world. Vaccines are most effective when they are administered with sufficient distribution and frequency to protect as many people as possible.

In the July 23, 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med 2009;361:335-44, there appeared an article reporting a study by Dipika Sur, MD and colleagues entitled “A Cluster-Randomized Effectiveness Trial of Vi Typhoid Vaccine in India.” The premise of the study was that typhoid fever, caused by infection with the bacteria Salmonella enterica serotype typhi (S. typhi), causes up to 600,00 deaths per year, mostly in developing countries. Injectable Vi polysaccharide vaccine has up to this time been used in a limited fashion in public health programs, and there have been unanswered questions about its effectiveness in children (ages 2 to 5 years) and in particular its use to cause “herd” immunity (e.g., if it is given to a large population living in close proximity, will it promote immunity in the nonimmunized “herd” of people). Read more »

This post, Vi Typhoid Vaccine: Safe And Effective For Young Children, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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