Thursday, November 28, 2013

Natural News Downplays Meningitis

The meningitis outbreak at Princeton University in New Jersey has caused a lot of concern for parents, school, and health officials recently. Seven people have been diagnosed with the rare Type B meningitis since March, for which there is no approved U.S. vaccine.  Bacterial meningitis like type B can cause swelling of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can cause mental disabilities, hearing loss, paralysis and death.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave permission for the vaccine Bexsero to be imported. Bexsero vaccinates against type B meningitis and is already being used in Europe and Australia.

Natural News recently published a blog post claiming that seven cases of a disease were hardly an epidemic and that it was irrational urgency to push an unapproved emergency vaccine.

Natural News goes on to seek the advice of Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM, and ABIHM, who calls the meningitis infections at Princeton a media-hype. She continues, and “recommends that concerned students simply get more rest, drink more clean water and avoid sharing food and beverages with their friends.” Her final recommendation is that students take in plenty of vitamin C and vitamin D for strong immune support.

In an article for USA Today, Jason Schwartz of Princeton’s Center for Human Values states that health authorities “wouldn’t make this decision (to import Bexsero) lightly. It reflects the assessment of gravity of the unfolding public health threat here on campus and experts’ judgment of the benefits of this vaccine on helping to minimize or eliminate this risk.” Schwartz is a research associate in bioethics who studies vaccine policy.

Meningitis bacteria are spread by coughing, sneezing, and kissing, and can easily spread in crowded conditions like dorm rooms. All students living in dorms are required to have a meningitis vaccine, but it doesn’t cover type B. Princeton students will have the option of receiving a Bexsero vaccine in early December and a booster in February. School officials are also telling students to wash their hands, cover their coughs and not to share drinking glasses and eating utensils.

By downplaying the severity of meningitis, Natural News is creating a potential health crisis. Meningitis is serious and can cause death in a matter of days. The irresponsible reporting of Natural News could be detrimental to student’s health. Vaccine Watch encourages anyone concerned about meningitis to speak with his or her physician.

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