Week in review 13/11/2012

Here it is guys, some more tidbits from the world of science and skepticism;

More Than a Quarter of St. Louis EMTs Don’t Get Flu Vaccines, Saint Louis University Study Finds

http://www.newswise.com/articles/more-than-a-quarter-of-st-louis-emts-don-t-get-flu-vaccines-saint-louis-university-study-finds

A Saint Louis University study reveals that more than 25 percent of St. Louis area Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) do not get vaccinated against the flu.
Published in the American Journal of Infection Control, the study indicates that the seasonal influenza vaccine compliance for St. Louis EMTs still remains far below the 90 percent target outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 program…

…The study, funded by the Saint Louis County Department of Health, gauged the seasonal and H1N1 influenza vaccine compliance and whether or not St. Louis EMTs planned to get vaccinated. It also measured the attitudes and beliefs of EMTs about the seasonal influenza vaccine. Sixty percent of EMTs who did not get vaccinated said they do not trust the public health authorities when they say the influenza vaccine is safe, and about a third said that flu vaccine has a lot of side effects and reported being afraid of them. More than half in this group also said they do not believe they can play a role in transmitting influenza to their patients if they are not vaccinated.

There are a few points from this that are very worrying indeed. I don’t think it would be speculating too wildly to think that you could generalise from this study to other regions, and nations. EMTs are on the front line and as such interact with more patients than nearly any other health professional, especially the elderly who are most at risk from influenza. For health professionals the flu vaccine is not just to protect the immunised, but also to protect the people they come into contact with. Previous studies have shown that at risk groups like the elderly are not nearly as likely to receive the flu vaccine than is necessary, which means the will be depending on the vaccination status of others to prevent catching the flu, which can be fatal. Which is why it’s all the more important that healthcare professionals get the vaccinations they require, vaccines like the flu and whooping cough boosters.
What is more surprising to me is the distrust that 60% of the non-vaccinated have for their own profession. It really demonstrates the up-hill battle we are facing as skeptics and activists to prove that modern medical establishments aren’t part of some money making conspiracy, with peoples lives caught in the middle. The fact of the matter is that pharmaceutical companies are already hesitant to produce vaccine due to the risk of legal action over vaccine injury, vaccines aren’t hugely profitable either.
Perhaps the most disappointing finding though is the clear lack of education that lead more than half of the non-vaccinated to believe that they were not capable of transmitting the flu to their patients. Working in the health industry myself I have all too often been witness to shocking gaps in what should be common knowledge to any health professional, especially in matter where patients lives are literally on the line. Clearly more resources are needed to keep members of our healthcare systems up to date.

Mike Lacelle Passed Away

http://www.facebook.com/theskepticsguide

Last night around midnight our friend Mike Lacelle passed away. We will be talking about him on the next show and his silent contributions to skepticism.

The sad news came last week that friend and contributor to the podcast Skeptics Guide to the Universe Mike Lacelle passed away. This is the second death to rock the show after the great Perry DeAngelis passed away several years ago. Mike was an enthusiastic fan of the show creating the SGU fan site as well as countless hours of behind the scenes contributions to skepticism’s most popular podcast; The Skeptics Guide to the Universe. His work ethic was a real inspiration to me, he showed that we can all make a difference, even if we don’t get the glory we feel we might deserve. Condolences to Mike’s family and friends, he will be missed but not forgotten.

New Study Updates Statistics on CAM use in Autism

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/Supplement_2/S77.full.pdf+html

Children with ASD use more CAM when they have coexisting

gastrointestinal symptoms, seizure disorders, and behavior

problems. This study suggests the importance of asking about CAM

use in children with ASD, especially those with complex symptoms.

The journal Pediatrics recently published a study about complementary and alternative medicine use in paediatric patients with autism with some interesting results. 28% of the 3173 patients sample reported use of CAM therapies. For all the publicity CAM gets, especially with autism this result is actually surprisingly low, though admittedly still too high. There was a correlation between increasing severity of disease and increased likelihood to use CAM therapies. There was also a correlation between increased wealth and increased likelihood to use CAM. This is not really that surprising, I would speculate that the more severe the disease, the more distressing for the parents and therefore the more likely the parents would be to seek alternative therapies and wealthier parents are more likely to be able to afford the sometimes expensive CAM treatments.

In the good news category Chelation therapy, a dangerous and thoroughly unsupported treatment according to the evidence was reported by only 0.6% of the 3173 respondents, this is down from as much as 7% in previous studies. Perhaps all the work of skeptics and scientists has been paying off when it comes to these kinds of treatments?

For more information the original article is available in full for free and doesn’t contain too much scientific jargon.

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/Supplement_2/S77.full.pdf+html

For a great review of CAM therapies used by autism patients and the evidence behind the claims I highly recommend this article.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2597185/

Week In Review 06/11/2012

So throughout the week I found a few news items that peaked my interest a little and wrote a few words about them, hopefully this will be a weekly occurrence, now that I contribute to the DoubtfulNews.com feed a lot of my better stories will end up there but the rest will go here if you feel like absorbing more of my thoughts.

http://www.klewtv.com/news/local/Clairvoyant-Spiritual-Counselor-Louise-Hauck-173722521.html

LEWISTON, ID – Lewis-Clark State College is offering a continuing education class that may have some skeptics wondering what to believe.

“I’m able to access this flow of information that’s really infinite and unlimited,” said Intuitive Spiritual Counselor Louise Hauck.

This kind of thing is a continuation of a disappointing and worrying trend in which academic institutions are cashing in and offering pseudoscientific courses. Not only does it provide practitioners with buzz words to use in marketing but (even if the course is not credited) it lends the practice with a false sense of legitimacy in the eyes of the public

Well they say a skeptic really isn’t a skeptic or they wouldn’t be asking questions,” said Hauck.

I just couldn’t let this quote go by without comment… I rather think Ms Hauck has missed the point of being a skeptic with this statement.

 

(From Natural News link not provided)

 In the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, which has devastated many parts of the East coast, we’ve been receiving a flood of calls and emails asking about emergency preparedness items for first aid and natural medicine.

Here, I’ve put together a quick checklist of things you’ll want to acquire (or grow) to add to your emergency medicine collection.

It looks like everyone is getting in on the act exploiting hurricane Sandy, and well, no body will be surprised to see Natural News entering the fray too. As expected there are a number of egregious articles to choose from, but natural first aid? Conveniently Natural News have a natural first aid kit available to purchase.

Just some of the things on the list;

• Aloe Vera – Can be used as a topical antibiotic as well as a treatment for burns and skin issues. Can be consumed internally (the gel only) for digestive support and to help eliminate intestinal issues.
• Activated charcoal – As a dietary supplement, activated charcoal can be a true lifesaver. It absorbs poisons! It’s the primary ingredient in the poison treatment liquids used in emergency rooms.
• Baking soda – This simple but miraculous substance has a multitude of uses in personal health and even treatment of many conditions including gout, arthritis, and even some cancer tumors.
• Wound clotting products such as Quik Clot. Available at:
• Cayenne Pepper Tincture – An amazing first aid substance with applications for boosting circulation and even helping heart attack victims.
• Gauze and bandages: You can never have too many, it seems. Available everywhere.
• Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide: Both are super cheap to acquire and have very long shelf life. Both can help clean first aid tools or even light wounds.

The list goes on including things like colloidal silver. It’s one thing to recommend some kind of natural remedy for the sniffles that will go away on it’s own but people in need of first aid can have some serious injuries that need proper medical treatment and medicines that actually work such as say, I don’t know, antibiotics?

At least the list does contain some actual potentially life saving pieces of kit. Nice to know that common sense isn’t completely missing from the good folks at Natural News.

 

Best of the Rest

http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/297924/222/School-community-fooled-by-leukemia-hoax

This one is a sad reminder that we need to apply skepticism to all areas of our lives.

http://www.rrobserver.com/news/local/article_84c6ac2c-2537-11e2-8842-0019bb2963f4.html

More acupuncture madness, (jn the ear! seriously!), funny how they always seem to say, “when used with conventional treatment” how do they know that the acupuncture works?