Epidemics Caused By Human Error

Ahhh history. So many stories to tell. And they’re not all good stories, but truth and objectivity are important if we want to learn and grow as a society.

As humans, we may think we are the smartest, most forward moving beings this planet has ever seen. It’s completely natural that we would paint ourselves as victims of epidemics, even the ones we technically started. We categorize things into good vs. bad, but when it comes to life, survival, viruses, or any numbers of things….like the children’s book: tigers have to eat. Many of us might root for the gazelle, but we can also take a step back. Tigers have to eat.

I would argue, that to the degree that we change and alter not only the landscape and its animals, but also the human body in ways that are not evidentially for the better, may be ways that may even be against nature, or disastrous for an ecosystem, I would say we are not so smart.

Maybe we are one step forward, two steps back sort of beings.

Like we create the problem, and then the solution, which creates more problems. We never get ahead, and for some odd reason, we lack the objectivity to see our own role in our demise.

You clear a field of native plants which kept its ecosystem in check for centuries, plant a single crop, get a bunch of weeds and pests, then invent a bunch of herbicides, pesticides, to deal with the pests, chemical fertilizers are added because soils are being depleted, the actual fruits are less nutritious, humans are then more prone to disease and infections, the landscape is susceptible to dustbowl, clearing trees saturates air pollution, and our bodies become the reservoir for all these streams of chemicals that are never examined for their interactions or affects on human health. That sounds like us to me!

Maybe it’s one step forward, ten steps back.

Perhaps the key is being able to live in harmony and balance with what’s around us, what we are part of. To be able to recognize there is a beautiful symbiosis that doesn’t need to be altered, or something that is intelligent and changes on its own when it sees fit. Life, or whatever we call it, brought us to this moment, we have a gift to be able to contemplate ourselves, our relationships to other things–why do we think we “need” to change it, or improve it? Why do we think there are no consequences to our innovations? Why do we think our solutions are improvements?

It reminds me of a body, whose symptoms of illness are signals that something is amiss, or out of balance. The symptoms themselves are not the problem, but a signal that something else is the problem. Maybe so too, the “things” we seek to improve are themselves signals that something is out of balance? Our strategies are doomed to fail because we never addressed the actual problem.

Epidemics Caused By Human Error

Hepatitis C: Baby Boomer Generation

People born between 1946 and 1964, called the baby boomers, comprise 25 percent of the US population (there were 74.1 million boomers in 2016). This generation has a higher rate of Hepatitis C compared to other generations.

About 1 in 30 baby boomers is infected with Hepatitis C, which can lead to liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

A study published in the Lancet looked for causes for this Hep C epidemic among the baby boomers, and found that the peak of hep c transmission occurred in 1950, when the oldest baby boomers were about 5 years old, and determined that “nosocomial or iatrogenic factors” (meaning medical care setting, i.e. reused medical equipment, syringes, etc. )  “RATHER than past sporadic behavioural risk” (i.e. risky behaviors such as IV drug use or unsafe sex) caused the epidemic.

Reuse of needles and syringes in health care settings before disposables became the uniform standard of practice spread hepatitis C in this generation of children. Disposable syringes became widely used after 1965, which is when this epidemic ended.

Penicillin was made available to the general public in 1945. The DPT vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) was combined into a single shot in 1948. Sterilization was subpar, often only consisting of a flame between patients, and needles and syringes were reused, thus spreading hepatitis C, and many other blood borne viruses.

Watch this video that shows first hand the reuse of syringes and type of sterilization between patients.

SOURCES:

https://www.bcmj.org/news/baby-boomers-risk-hepatitis-c

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(16)00124-9/fulltext


1918: Spanish Flu

The first cases of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that would eventually make it around the globe, began in Haskell County, Kansas and at Camp Funston at Fort Riley, Kansas.

The story goes…A mess cook came down with “the flu” in March, and within 3 weeks over 1,000 soldiers were ill. The illness traveled with the military to Europe and beyond, eventually killing 50 million people across the globe, although subsequent autopsies would find that they died of secondary bacterial infections, and not influenza itself.

Many doctors at the time did not think it was a flu but some kind of plague: it struck in the summer and fall (rather than winter), was most deadly in young people ages 20-40 (verses the young and the elderly which is more typical of every single flu we have ever seen), and had strange symptoms like projectile nose bleeds, coughing up blood or a sanguine foam, and turned a persons skin bluish black color, or sometimes spotted black (reminiscent of the pneumonic plague). Patients gave off a strange and puzzling stench.

At the time BMJ wrote: “bacteriological examination… has revealed an organism described as parameningococcus”.

Gene sequencing of the virus that allegedly caused the Spanish Flu revealed avian origin, but there are models that have speculated that the virus became virulent from a horse intermediary.

In addition to typhoid (whole cell), smallpox (live), diphtheria antitoxin, tetanus antitoxin, in January 1918 the men at Fort Riley, Kansas were given several injections of a new experimental meningococcal vaccine developed by the Rockefeller Institute, grown in horses.

“Transmission between horses and humans seems to have been key to some epidemics when horses were an intimate part of our lives,” says Richard Lenski, an evolutionary biologist at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

“We now have this idea that the source for a lot of influenza virus we see now worldwide is potentially equine, whereas the dogma has been for so long that its avian.”

The training camp was extremely overcrowded, and the men were given multiple injections with reusable syringes. Including a new, experimental anti-meningitis vaccine grown in horses at the Rockefeller Institute.

SOURCES:

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b382/66368819c1a916824e635c343f13fad3abf3.pdf


1916: Polio

H.V. Wyatt suggests that the polio epidemic of 1916 which began in Mid-May (well before summer which is more typical of polio transmission) in an Italian neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY was very likely accidental release of a virulent strain of polio virus from the Rockefeller Institute at 63rd Street and York Ave., just a few subway stops away from the Italian neighborhood in New York City.

At the exact time of this outbreak, Simon Flexner at the Rockefeller Institute had been passaging spinal cord tissue containing poliovirus between Rhesus monkey spinal cord to another, because they had been unable to infect monkeys by feeding.

This particular Rockefeller “MV” strain would only replicate in monkey neural cells, they would find in 1936 when Sabin tested the virus for several “ill-fated” vaccines. Subsequent study of the MV strain found that it caused polio.

New York saw 8,900 cases of paralysis with 2,448 deaths, and in total 23,000 cases with 5,000 deaths throughout New England and the Eastern states.

The exceptionally high case-fatality rate (higher than any other known outbreak) could be because the virus was made more virulent, or because of the treatments at the time, which may have included human and animal globulins, sera, lumbar punctures—all with unsterile solutions and medical equipment including reused syringes, needles and no protective equipment.

SOURCES:
https://benthamopen.com/contents/pdf/TOVACJ/TOVACJ-4-13.pdf

Read about the medical treatments:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4293735


1966, 1973 and 1978: Smallpox

In 1973 Charles Rondle was conducting research on smallpox at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which ended up infecting lab technician Ann Algeo, and several more people, including patients at the hospital.

The University of Birmingham Medical School in the United Kingdom had two smallpox outbreaks: The first occurred in 1966 when medical photographer contracted smallpox but was not diagnosed for 8 weeks and was not quarantined. A total of 12 further cases were identified.

In 1978, also medical photographer: Janet Parker worked in the photo lab one floor above the school’s research laboratory that was growing a smallpox strain. Despite being previously vaccinated, Janet Parker contracted smallpox and ultimately died. Her mother came down with smallpox but survived, and her father died of a heart attack shortly after visiting her in the hospital. The head of the University’s microbiological dept. committed suicide while in quarantine. In response to the exposure, 260 people were quarantined, over 500 people were given smallpox vaccinations. No further cases were identified.

In 1978, The WHO was about to declare smallpox eradicated on a worldwide level, but because of the lab-caused outbreak, they had to wait until 1980.

In 2014, the FDA moved to a new office, and left 100s of unclaimed vials of virus samples in a cardboard box in a cold storage room, 6 of which contained smallpox. Luckily it didn’t result in an outbreak, but human error is a reality. It happens more than we know.


1940s & 1950s Polio Epidemic

Polio seems to be the go-to argument for most people who support vaccinations, or let me rephrase that, fear not vaccinating.

The thing is, polio was LITERALLY caused by vaccinations. The uptick in the 1940’s and 1950’s is a direct response to vaccinating a population where polio was endemic. No one ever asks, “Why the 1950s”? WHY don’t you ask WHY?

Seriously, why is this not part of the historical record in the public mind? I don’t hear anyone discussing this. But I’m sorry, this is the part of history that can’t be forgotten and needs to be told. No one gets to rewrite history to get people to live in a fantasy where vaccines came in on their white horse and saved the day.

Polio is a viral illness that in 95% of cases is completely asymptomatic, meaning it produces no symptoms. In 1% of cases the virus invades the central nervous system, where it targets motor neurons, resulting in flaccid paralysis.

Poliovirus has been around since ancient times, but in the 1940s and 1950s more cases of paralysis emerged–1952 being the highest number of reported cases ever. What happened in the 1940s and 1950s that was different?

Firstly, we have DDT, or Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. DDT was the first of the modern insecticides that began to be used in the 1940s. In insects, it affects the central nervous system by interfering with normal nerve impulses, which causes spasms and leads to death.

Humans are the top of the food chain, so are in the amazing circumstance of being able to eat all the plants and animals that didn’t die of DDT poisoning but had stored the pesticide in its fat or milk. (This is why we aren’t so smart).

DDT was used heavily in agriculture, but also marketed for use inside and outside the home, sprayed from the skies, sprayed DIRECTLY onto children, it was in wallpaper, shelf paper, lotions and potions–it was just about everywhere.

The problem was that DDT wasn’t just deadly for insects, but for all life species. It broke the chain of the ecosystem, and it’s effects were wide-reaching from trees, birds, all insects, soil, and it found its way into the milk supply.

Rachel Carson detailed that some food items such as stewed dried fruit contained 69.9 ppm and bread contained 100.9 ppm of DDT. In 1969, some California mothers’ milk contained more DDT than that permitted in cows’ milk.

A 2006 UC Berkeley study found that in utero exposure to DDT is associated with developmental delays in the young child, but that the longer the child nursed, the better they scored on developmental tests. The finding suggests that the benefits of nursing may outweigh the potentially harmful effects of DDT transmission though mother’s milk. Breastmilk for the win!

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring put the nerve agent under the microscope, which inspired the Environmental Protection Agency, and by 1972, DDT was banned in the United States. However, DDT is still used in many countries.

DDT being sprayed near children to prevent polio. Yep, they used DDT on children to control insects which they thought spread polio.

As early as the 1940s, tonsillectomies were found to be a cause of respiratory paralysis due to bulbar polio. Any recent surgery or vaccination or penicillin shot could cause polio in theory. This is called “Provocation Polio”.

In the 1950s, researchers found that DPT vaccination was linked with limb paralysis. Case-control studies confirmed that children with paralytic polio were more likely to have received a vaccination in the affected limb within the previous month. The association between injection and polio was double the risk over no injections.

After these studies came out it was recommended in areas that saw cases of polio emerge to suspend all vaccination programs and all injections for children of all ages.

SOURCES:

RELATION OF TONSILLECTOMY AND OF ADENOIDECTOMY TO THE INCIDENCE OF POLIOMYELITIS

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/1179105

Relation Between Recent Injections and Paralytic Poliomyelitis in Children

https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.42.2.142

The Association of Parenteral Injections with Poliomyelitis

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1525725/

Polio provocation: solving a mystery with the help of history

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)61251-4/fulltext