Monday, April 27, 2009

Flap's Dentistry Blog Links April 27, 2009

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The European Union's health commissioner urged Europeans on Monday to postpone nonessential travel to the United States or Mexico due to swine flu. EU Health Commissioner Andorra Vassiliou met with the EU foreign ministers on the subject as Spain reported the first confirmed case of swine flu in Europe. That was also the first swine flu case outside North America. On arriving in Luxembourg, Vassiliou advised Europeans to reassess their travel plans.

Every passenger arriving in Britain from Mexico is to be tested for signs of swine flu amid fears that the disease has spread across the world. wo travellers were admitted to a hospital in Scotland when they complained of flu-like symptoms after returning from holiday in the country. Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, said Britain was on "constant alert" after the previously unknown influenza spread from Mexico to America and cases were reported as far afield as New Zealand, France, Spain, Israel and Canada.

Top Obama administration officials are taking to the airwaves today, hoping to reassure the nation that the federal government is responding to the threat of a human swine flu outbreak. The issue is "serious enough to be a great concern to this White House and to this government," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said this morning on NBC'S "Meet the Press". President Obama is being briefed regularly by the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security - two agencies whose heads will brief reporters at the White House on swine flu response this afternoon - Gibbs said, and the government is ramping up monitoring. "We are taking the proper precautions to address anything that happens," Gibbs said. "It's not a time to panic."

Imagine a future where you can with a click of the mouse see what your patients and colleagues read on the Internet this morning, what they ate for lunch, and what they’re working on right now. Whether that sounds to you like a potential practice innovation or a disaster of oversharing probably indicates whether you’ll have any use for Twitter, the most hyped Internet innovation of the year. Twitter is a Web site that allows users to instantly communicate messages of up to 140 characters to their online audiences.

Swine flu is in the news, with documented cases of human to human transmission. According to news reports, this outbreak has "pandemic potential," with at least 62 people dying in Mexico, and over 1,000 cases reported in that country. Swine flu, or Swine Influenza, is caused by the Influenza type A virus found in pigs. Until now, human infection has been uncommon, with most cases involving humans being exposed to infected pigs. Human to human transmission has previously been rare, with a potential single case in 1988. Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of regular influenza, and can include fever, cough, sore throat, chills, fatigue and body aches. Gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea can be present as well. The diagnosis is made by analyzing a respiratory specimen, which is generally collected within 4 to 5 days after the onset of illness.

Heartland Dental Care, Inc. acquired six dental practices and opened two new dental care facilities during first quarter 2009. The six acquisitions include practices in Dickson, Tenn., Lexington, Ky., Las Vegas, Nev., Phoenix, Ariz., Glendale, Ariz., and New Port Richie, Fla. Two new dental facilities opened during first quarter include locations in Lee's Summit, Mo. and Dulles, Va. This brings the total number of Heartland Dental Care practices to 238. "We are excited to start 2009 with an additional eight dental practices," said Richard E. Workman, DMD, CEO and President of Heartland Dental Care, Inc. "We are adding practices in markets we currently serve as well as moving into new states, and that is very exciting for us."

Apparently, physicians and medical scientists are just as disgusted with the Huffington Post as your average “right wing” blogger. Who knew? Jim Carrey, husband of anti-vaccination kook Jenny McCarthy, has written a screed for Arianna advocating the latest Dark Ages fantasy of the left and the right: that vaccinations cause autism. This idiotic excrescence has prompted an excellent, darkly hilarious post from Orac at Respectful Insolence: Fire Marshall Bill discusses vaccines and autism on The Huffington Post.

After writing about a new low of pseudoscience published in that repository of all things antivaccine and quackery, The Huffington Post (do you even have to ask?), on Tuesday, I had hoped--really hoped--that I could ignore HuffPo for a while. After all, there's only so much stupid that even Orac can tolerate before his logic circuits start shorting out and he has to shut down a while so that his self-repair circuits can undo the damage. Besides, I sometimes think that the twit who created HuffPo, Arianna Huffington, likes the attention that pseudoscience turds dropped onto her blog by quackery boosters of the like of Kim Evans garner. Certainly, the HuffPo editors seem utterly untroubled that, among physicians and medical scientists, HuffPo is viewed with utter contempt and ridicule. Certainly, I view Arianna's vanity project that way whenever it publishes the antivaccine stylings of ignoramuses like Deirdre Imus or cranks like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and David Kirby,

The chemical reactions that take place at the amalgam surface when exposed to bleaching agents are not well-understood. It is known, however, that mercury ions are released from dental amalgam when bleached. We hypothesized that increasing concentrations of hydrogen peroxide are more effective than water at increasing mercury ion release from dental amalgam. We prepared dental amalgam discs (n = 65) by packing amalgam into cylindrical plastic molds and divided them into 13 equal groups of 5 discs each. The discs in each group were individually immersed in either 0%, 3.6%, 6%, or 30% (w/v) hydrogen peroxide at exposure periods of 1, 8, 48, and 168 hrs. Samples were taken for mercury ion release determination by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. There were significant increases in mercury release between control and all other hydrogen peroxide concentrations at all exposure times (p < 0.05).

US medical authorities expressed strong concern Friday about an unprecedented multi-strain swine flu outbreak that has killed at least 60 people in Mexico and infected seven people in the United States. "It's very obvious that we are very concerned. We've stood up emergency operation centers," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesman Dave Daigle told AFP. One major source of concern was that the virus included strains from different types of flu.

Results The estimated prevalence of autism for children at each year of age from 3 to 12 years increased throughout the study period. The estimated prevalence of DDS clients aged 3 to 5 years with autism increased for each quarter from January 1995 through March 2007. Since 2004, the absolute increase and the rate of increase in DDS clients aged 3 to 5 years with autism were higher than those in DDS clients of the same ages with any eligible condition including autism. Conclusions The DDS data do not show any recent decrease in autism in California despite the exclusion of more than trace levels of thimerosal from nearly all childhood vaccines. The DDS data do not support the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal during childhood is a primary cause of autism.

The Los Angeles Times ran a piece of mine this past weekend online (it will be in print Monday), where I recall two stories which taught me about the importance of vaccines. The anti-vaccine group Age of Autism noticed this piece as well, as they did when Salon ran my review of Paul Offit's book, Autism's false Prophets later last year. That piece made one Mr.David Kirby very mad. The LA Times and I received this email from them a couple of days ago, and thought it might be worth breaking down.

Three test cases -- arguing that MMR shots and a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal cause the disorder -- are denied. In a major setback for the fight to link autism to vaccines, a special federal court ruled Thursday that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and vaccines that contained a mercury-based preservative were not connected to the autism that developed in three children.

Twenty epidemiologic studies have shown that neither thimerosal nor MMR vaccine causes autism. These studies have been performed in several countries by many different investigators who have employed a multitude of epidemiologic and statistical methods. The large size of the studied populations has afforded a level of statistical power sufficient to detect even rare associations. These studies, in concert with the biological implausibility that vaccines overwhelm a child’s immune system, have effectively dismissed the notion that vaccines cause autism. Further studies on the cause or causes of autism should focus on more‐promising leads.

A rising number of California parents are choosing to send their children to kindergarten without routine vaccinations, putting hundreds of elementary schools in the state at risk for outbreaks of childhood diseases eradicated in the U.S. years ago. Exemptions from vaccines -- which allow children to enroll in public and private schools without state-mandated shots -- have more than doubled since 1997, according to a Times analysis of state data obtained last week. The rise in unvaccinated children appears to be driven by affluent parents choosing not to immunize. Many do so because they fear the shots could trigger autism, a concern widely discredited in medical research. But with autism rates rising, some parents find that fear more worrisome than the chance that their child could contract diseases that, while now very rare in this country, can still be deadly.

In the decade since that episode, vaccine refusal has become a trend in many places, including Southern California. As a recent Times article shows, that trend is particularly marked in affluent areas. By now, most people know that many parents are refusing to vaccinate their children because they're scared that vaccines cause autism. They've heard the public rants of people who form a small but vocal and well-financed minority in the autism community and been frightened by them. Actress Jenny McCarthy, for example, who has had her share of appearances on "Larry King Live" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show," has screamed (literally) that she would rather children get measles than autism. At best, that's a false choice; at worst, it's a sick, horrible wish for her or anybody else's child.

Would you rather have your kids get measles or autism? That's the choice that anti-vaccine proponent Jenny McCarthy lays out on the talk show circuit. But in a LA Times column, pediatrician Rahul Parikh comments, "At best, that's a false choice; at worst, it's a sick, horrible wish for her or anybody else's child." He further observes, rightly, that the anti-vaccine movement has done a much better job communicating their agenda, and utilizing social media, than doctors have. That's one reason why their message is gaining traction and resonating with confused parents. And despite the staggering amount of evidence demonstrating the safety, vaccines will always have a target on their back. "After we spend millions of your healthcare dollars to disprove these hypotheses," Dr. Parikh writes, "they'll move the target to something else."

For the past couple years, there’s been a steady march toward making adult cells mimic embryonic stem cells. Success could ultimately defuse the debate over destroying embryos to harvest the stem cells, which have the ability to transform into any type of human cell, and which scientists think may someday be of great therapeutic benefit. The latest step was reported today, when scientists described a new method that gave adult mouse cells the characteristics of embryonic cells. The key advance this time: They reprogrammed the cells using proteins instead of genes. That could be important, because using genes created risks of unintended genetic mutations. Here’s the paper from the symmetrically named journal Cell Stem Cell.

1 comment:

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