BIOSCOPE '97

by Dr. Barbara Price

Vaccines: The Good and the Bad

Monkey Pox and Small Pox
In the 20 years since WHO documented that small pox has been eradicated, doctors and health departments no longer vaccinate children or adults to prevent small pox. Indeed, the WHO planned to destroy the remaining small pox viruses that have been kept by the CDC in the US and in Novosibirsk in Russia (ASA 94-6 ). Small pox vaccinations also protected against monkey pox (normally transmitted from monkeys to humans) and an unanticipated result has been an increase in monkey pox in humans. Not only is monkey pox increasing, but the number of human-to-human transmissions are also increasing. There have been over 170 new cases of monkey pox in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) since March 1997. While some cases may be chicken pox, there is enough concern that WHO is sending an investigating team in to the Congo.

Gulf War Syndrome
Several recent reports from the UK have identified the cause of the Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) to be the "cocktail" of vaccines given to US and UK troops before they were sent to the Gulf area. Troops headed for the combat with Iraq were prepared for the BW Saddam Hussein was suspected to have, as well as diseases that might be endemic in the region: anthrax, plague, whooping cough, cholera, tetanus, typhoid, polio and yellow fever. A number of troops who were not sent to the conflict, but who were injected with the same group of vaccines, have shown the same symptoms and trends as those claiming to have the GWS. The troops were designated as backups that were prepared, but never deployed. They did not take pyridostigmine tablets and they were not exposed to organophosphates. Anyone getting their family vaccinated is regularly warned about the importance of spacing the vaccinations to avoid side effects and complications. Yet, according to the PA reports, some troops received up to nine injections a day, despite clear guidelines for spreading out the injections. One of the real concerns was using the whooping cough vaccine so close to the anthrax vaccine. The anthrax vaccine usually requires several months to become effective. Understandably, the various forces felt that the vaccinations were needed to mitigate any effects from the very real potential of exposure to BW. How the vaccines might combine to initiate these symptoms still needs investigations.

Prior to these reports, many people, including scientists and medical professionals, believed that chemical exposures from distant ammunition dumps, sporadic detection of chemical detectors and even the extensive oil fires might be responsible for the GWS. While ASA was in Kuwait, they spoke with several of the doctors and asked if there was any evidence of symptoms similar to the GWS in the Kuwaiti population. No such clustering of such symptoms has been noted, which questions the effect of exposure to these chemicals as a cause.

And while the UK is pursuing these possibilities, as well as eliminating other possible chemical exposures, the US appears confused with Pentagon officials claiming that the Pentagon is capable of investigating the cause.

UN: Iraq Still Hiding BW
UN inspectors claim that Iraq is still hiding details of their BW program and restricting access to various suspected BW sites. Despite Iraq's stated desire to throw off the UN imposed trading sanctions, it is still refuses open cooperation. Iraq claims that it has legitimate security interests to protect, and disturbingly, several countries on the Security Council, including China, Egypt, Russia and France, accept this claim.

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