Of Medicine and Men (and Sausage Balloons)

The latest Medical Observer, an Australian tabloid for doctors targeted mostly at General Practitioners, is running with a story that has also made the mainstream press.

“New pertussis strain responsible for Australian epidemic” highlights a new dominant strain of the Bordetella pertussis bacterium that appears to fall outside of the protective range of the current narrow-spectrum vaccine and is the predominant cause of the prolonged whooping cough epidemic in Australia that began during 2008;  responsible for 84% of cases (from 31%) and indicating it has gained a selective advantage under the current vaccination regime.

Professor Lan’s response: “We need to look at changes to the vaccine itself or increase the number of boosters; as the [acellular] vaccine contains only three to five antigens [and so] we need to ask what other strategies can be used to combat the ongoing epidemic.

And that is the trouble with man. And doctors are but men.

The idea that we have absolute control over nature.

But through the Law of Unintended Consequences, nature always fights back.

Effective vaccinations against (certain strains of) whooping cough, has put pressure on the virus to mutate, adapt and survive; then thrive. The battle is an ongoing one. Nature doesn’t stop.

The same situation has been seen with the pneumonia vaccine – different strains of the ‘pneumococcal’ bacterium are starting to cause more and more of the disease than previosuly; all because of vaccinations.

No doubt too, that different strains of HPV will start being the predominant cause of disease, as certain strains are reduced in natural circulation by way vaccination.

Man does not truly solve problems; but merely he places interfered and manipulated stresses on the environemnt; reducing one problem but allowing different problems to arise.

Some people call this Karma. Others, physics: Newton’s 3rd Law of thermodynamics. Yet still others, God.

I liken it to a sausage balloon. As you squeeze one part another part pops out. We operate inside a closed system where energy cannot be created nor destroyed; and for evry action there is an equal but opposite reaction.

Medicine and Man alike would do well to always keep this in mind.

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