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Squeezing a balloon

MagazineMarch 2000 (Vol. 10 Issue 12)Squeezing a balloon

Many in the scientific community wonder whether this vaccine will increase other forms of meningitis

Many in the scientific community wonder whether this vaccine will increase other forms of meningitis. A a great deal of evidence shows that vaccines do cause viral or bacterial populations to shift. The introduction of mass polio vaccination has altered the balance in favour of non polio gut viruses (BMJ, 1961: 1061); in many countries, other types of related paralytic disease have risen as cases of polio have fallen. For instance, since the introduction of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in China in 1971, the incidence of GBS has increased tenfold.

As Chinese researchers from the Second Hospital of Hebei Medical College wrote, "The widespread use of OPV may have led to [mutation of the virus], resulting in an alteration of the disease and/or to a change in the main epidemic of a type of polio virus (Lancet, 1994; 344: 1026).All reports show that the incidence of meningitis has roughly doubled in the last few years. Professor Peltola doubts that this vaccination would change the bacterial population as the group C meningitis isn't epidemic.

However, there is evidence that the introduction of mass Hib vaccination for a meningitis which was also not an epidemic has caused a higher proliferation of pneumococcal meningitis, the other bacterial form of the disease. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal (1992; 18: 6) has made a connection between penicillin resistant strains of pneumococcal meningitis and universal Hib vaccination. Certainly, cases of bacterial meningitis have risen sharply since the Hib vaccine. "Trying to eliminate microorganisms and diseases is comparable to squeezing a balloon," said naturopath Harald Gaier. "You push in one side and it only makes the other side bulge."


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