Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where's the Diphtheria Outbreak?

I just read this article from the New York Times outlining the CDC's concern about low vaccination rates among adults and it got me thinking. The CDC says only 2.1 percent of adults from 18-64 are immunized against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. Here's a quote,

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 2.1 percent of adults ages 18 to 64 are immunized against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, the journal reports. A vaccine against shingles is recommended for all adults over 60, but only 1.9 percent of adults have been immunized. Fewer than 30 percent of the adults at highest risk for flu complications get flu shots.

So, with a vaccination rate so low among adults, my question is where's the diphtheria outbreak? Where are the increased cases of tetanus? Where's all the whooping cough? Why aren't we seeing huge outbreaks of these diseases?

Are there other factors, besides vaccination, that mitigate people contracting and transmitting diseases? What might they be?



Neo-agrarian said...

Here is one of them

Whooping cough has been on the rise in the past 3-5 years with breakout happening in sporadic areas. While not quite the epidemic it use to be, since we diagnose it quicker and have a better sanitary systems then we did in the past.

While tetanus really is a disease of being injured. There are no real tetanus "epidemic" however if the conditions are right following an acute injury that results in a break in the skin. It can happen. Most cases result from a puncture wound, laceration (cut), or an abrasion (scrape).

Diphtheria is again more a disease of conditions. Diphtheria is rare in the United States and Europe,where the sanitation systems are very developed. Also health officials have been immunizing children against it for decades. However, it's still common in developing countries where immunizations aren't given routinely. There are many cases of it in nations at war such as Afghanistan and Iraq. There it would be a benefit to immunize the population until the sanitation system gets up to par. As for vaccinating we still need to? One could argue the point that no we don't need to, but it is kind of like taking a vitamin it may do you some good or it may do nothing to you, but it shouldn't harm you if done properly

Laura said...

Check out my new post--complete with graphs!

In the meantime, here's some info about tetanus:

During all of WWII, 12 cases of tetanus were reported by US forces. 33% were vaccinated. [and that was from a population that definitely had it's share of dirty puncture wounds I'd say]
-Edward Mortimer, "Immunization Against Infectious Diseases," Science, Volume 200, (May 26, 1978), p.905

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