Uganda ends Marburg virus disease outbreak

Uganda has successfully controlled an outbreak of Marburg virus disease and prevented its spread only weeks after it was first detected, the World Health Organization said on Friday (December 8).

“Uganda has led an exemplary response. Health authorities and partners, with the support of WHO, were able to detect and control the spread of Marburg virus disease within a matter of weeks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

The Ugandan Ministry of Health notified WHO of the outbreak on October 17, after laboratory tests confirmed that the death of a 50-year-old woman was due to infection with the Marburg virus. A Public Health Emergency Operations Centre was immediately activated and a national taskforce led the response.

Three people died over the course of the outbreak which affected two districts in eastern Uganda near the Kenyan border, Kween and Kapchorwa. Health workers followed up with a total 316 close contacts of the patients in Uganda and Kenya to ensure that they had not acquired the illness.

The MVD outbreak was declared contained by the Ministry of Health after the contacts of the last confirmed patient completed 21 days of follow up (to account for the 21-day incubation period of the virus) and an additional 21 days of intensive surveillance was completed in affected districts.

“As evidenced by the quick and robust response to the Marburg virus disease outbreak, we are committed to protecting people by ensuring that all measures are in place for early detection and immediate response to all viral haemorrhagic fever outbreaks,” said Ugandan Minister of Health Sarah Opendi.

Within 24 hours of being informed by Ugandan health authorities in early October, WHO deployed a rapid response team to the remote mountainous area. The Organization also released US$623,000 from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) to finance immediate support and scale up of the response in Uganda and Kenya.

In subsequent weeks, WHO and partners supported laboratory testing and surveillance, the search for new cases and their contacts, establishing infection prevention measures in health facilities, managing and treating cases, and engaging with communities.

Surveillance and contact tracing on the Kenyan side of the border by the Kenyan Ministry of Health and partners also prevented cross-border spread of the disease.

“The response to the Marburg virus disease outbreak demonstrates how early alert and response, community engagement, strong surveillance and coordinated efforts can stop an outbreak in its tracks before it ravages communities,” said Dr. Peter Salama, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. “This was Uganda’s fifth MVD outbreak in ten years. We need to be prepared for the next one.”

WHO will continue to support health authorities in both countries to upgrade their surveillance and response capabilities – including infection prevention and control measures, and case management.

Source: WHO

Saving Lives in Health: Global Estimates and Country Measurement.

One of the most compelling reasons for development aid to health is that it saves lives, often for a few hundred dollars per year of life saved. Relatively uniquely in development, health has a set of high-impact interventions that can save lives directly. Insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) protect families from malaria, antiretrovirals (ARVs) reduce mortality from HIV, and tuberculosis detection and treatment reduce TB mortality. Prevention activities, particularly for HIV, can save millions more lives. Yet, health programs have not always communicated with simple methods the lives they save.

In this week’s PLOS Medicine David McCoy and colleagues discuss the “lives saved” model of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (The Global Fund). The Global Fund, together with WHO, UNAIDS, and scientists from the article by McCoy and colleagues [1],[2], have published simple peer-reviewed methods to calculate the lives saved from a restricted set of HIV, TB, and malaria interventions that have known mortality outcomes [3][7]. Our method includes only those health interventions with known, documented mortality effects: ARV treatment; directly observed treatment, short-course (DOTS); and ITNs. Our methodology uses documented data reported to the Global Fund on the individuals receiving these services. These results are first verified by national disease programs (we invest 5%–10% of our funds to build the capacity of country monitoring and evaluation systems), then by the Global Fund (which uses independent local fund agents to check the national data systems measuring these services every six months), and finally by on-site checks in a sample of health facilities to verify that people receive these services (as part of performance-based funding) [8].

In addition, the Global Fund’s method applies the agreed, partner mortality estimates and models from WHO and UNAIDS [4] to these service results—for example, the latest scientific data on how HIV treatment or TB treatment will reduce the chance that a person will die of HIV or TB.

Extensive criteria are used to exclude countries where The Global Fund is not a significant contributor; that is, where The Global Fund does not contribute at least US$50 million; is a significant percentage of HIV, TB, and malaria spending; and does not support a key national-level activity, such as drug procurement. Where this does not occur, as has been the case in Uganda, Kenya, or South Africa in recent years, the results are not included.

The method to assess lives saved provides a conservative estimate. The estimate [3],[4] does not include the impact of HIV prevention (which in certain countries—e.g., Thailand, Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe—has saved several million lives per country); the impact of malaria outside Africa and among adults; and the significant, secondary impact of DOTS treatment on reducing TB (as shown by the declines in TB prevalence in China, and in TB prevalence by 45% in Cambodia). Furthermore, reporting of services by programs in country are subject to substantial delays before they are reported globally. The most recent scale up in ITNs and ARV treatment are not fully included; for example, the lives saved are only half the number of people reported on ARVs. We do acknowledge the method [3],[4] has major limitations. Most importantly, it does not directly measure mortality, because in many countries in which we work vital registration systems are too weak, so the method is based on the latest partner estimates of mortality from WHO and UNAIDS.

The article in this week’s PLOS Medicine by David McCoy and colleagues has great value in discussing the assumptions in the methods the Global Fund uses to assess lives saved and the partner estimates—of ARV adherence, use of ITNs, and the limitations of focusing only on a limited set of services. We agree that assumptions require additional sensitivity analysis, and we will update our estimates in 2014 as modeling is refined with new and improved data from country impact evaluations and updated WHO and UNAIDS estimates. We have published more detailed analysis of the ARV, ITN, and DOTS estimates as used by the McCoy and colleagues[4]. Yet, the uncertainty ranges, with the lives saved from ITNs as low as 27,000, were based on very limited data and provided little additional value. We fully agree with the need for increased country data on estimates and mortality assumptions of lives saved. Most importantly, global modeling needs strengthening with wider and deeper country measurement of epidemic trends and lives saved.

To significantly strengthen our assessment of lives saved, The Global Fund approved a new evaluation plan in 2012, which includes country health, HIV, TB, and malaria reviews to more directly measure mortality and impact on HIV, TB, and malaria trends in 25 countries, where 65% of the global burden of these diseases occurs [9]. To strengthen these direct country data and to put global commitments made with WHO and other partners into practice, we are also investing in five components of data systems: surveys, health information systems, vital registration, financial tracking, and country analytical capacity [10]. These investments in country data and analysis will form a basis to implement some of the recommendations to global modeling provided by McCoy and colleagues [1]. Our initial country reviews provide direct evidence of impact. For example, in Cambodia, malaria deaths have been reduced by over 80%, child mortality has declined in Tanzania, TB has declined in China, HIV prevalence has declined in Zimbabwe (though not in other countries, such as Uganda in recent years) [7],[11]. Some of these declines are not captured by global estimates of lives saved, and suggest these estimates may be conservative and require updating as country-level analysis of mortality is available.

The need for improved country data does highlight some of the weaknesses we see in the paper by David McCoy and colleagues [1]. Their analysis provides very little additional country data on uncertainties, or on the significant changes in child mortality and mortality among adults of working ages, associated with the impact of HIV, TB, and malaria on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 6. It draws upon one meta-analysis of ARVs suggesting 62% retention at 24 months, but our recent country reviews suggest most have moved between districts rather than have died, and mortality rates were often less than 10% [11][13]. Removing a “counterfactual” of TB deaths is unclear and difficult to explain why TB deaths in 1995 might be reduced from deaths reported now, unless we are evaluating a global TB strategy. The aim of The Global Fund’s lives saved figure is not to evaluate a particular strategy, as McCoy and colleagues suggest, nor to “attribute” lives saved to the agency, but to highlight the lives saved each year from services delivered by the programs we support. The adjustment of ITNs based on data on use is important—WHO reports this as over 90% from surveys [14], and we will further adjust our estimates of lives saved as partner estimates from WHO and UNAIDS on the key parameters are updated. However, we believe McCoy and colleagues overstate the figures on ARV retention, ITN use, and issues of removing TB deaths from the 1990s.

The Global Fund is investing in improved country financial data, including funding national health accounts to improve data on spending on health, HIV, TB, and malaria by different partners in 46 countries. At present, it would not be accurate to use the reported share of total health or disease expenditure to attribute lives saved to an agency. Our communications on lives saved [3],[4] are clear that the estimates aim to show the lives saved of the programs we support together with other partners, civil society, and country HIV, TB, and malaria programs themselves. As described above and in our publications [1],[3], we use extensive criteria to exclude countries where The Global Fund does not provide significant financial and programmatic support. We stress that we play an important financing role, but the results are first and foremost those of country HIV, TB, and malaria programs. We will communicate this more clearly going forward and as we refine our methods with improved country data.

Finally, we understand the argument on vertical programs by McCoy and colleagues that reporting on individual HIV, TB, and malaria services can distort health priorities. The Global Fund is clear that it encourages countries to align funding with their health and disease strategies, and uses indicators of individual HIV, TB, and malaria services to measure progress and performance. However, we do think clear targets on HIV, TB, and malaria are important, as shown by the MDGs.

Lives saved is an important measure for health programs. We have based our estimates on real, individual verified data on a limited set of services, which have clear, documented mortality outcomes. We welcome the paper by McCoy and colleagues in this week’s PLOS Medicine, as it discusses more fully the assumptions, explores the potential pitfalls in communication, and stresses the importance of investments in country financial and impact data. Our new evaluation plan fully supports this country investment in country data and analysis. We will update our global estimates with country data from our impact studies in 25 countries where 65% of the global burden of HIV, TB, and malaria occurs. Through these investments in global estimates and country measurement, we are confident the programs The Global Fund supports will save more than the 8.7 million lives estimated so far.


Invasion of the Nostril Ticks.

Tony Goldberg had been back from Uganda for only about a day when he felt a distressingly familiar itch in his nose. A veterinary epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he had just spent a few weeks in Kibale National Park studying chimpanzees and how the diseases they carry might make the jump to humans. Now, he realized, he might have brought one of their parasites home with him.

There was only one way to be sure. Goldberg quickly gathered the necessary supplies—a pair of forceps, a flashlight, and a mirror—and steeled his resolve. Using the mirror to steer his hand, he poked the instrument into his irritated nostril, latched onto a suspicious lump, and quickly yanked it out, careful not to snag any nose hairs in the process. There it was: an adolescent tick. At that point, Goldberg knew, it had likely been living in his nostril for several days.

This was not Goldberg’s first nostril tick, and it’s unlikely to be his last. (On the whole, he says, the experience is “not pleasant but not as bad as you might think.”) He’s seen lots of chimpanzees with nostril ticks during his time in the field, so he’s not surprised a few of the parasites have taken advantage of his presence to burrow into the nose of a closely related primate. This particular tick, however, presented a unique opportunity. Because he found it when he was already back in his lab, Goldberg says, “I was in a position to preserve it for DNA analysis. It was just lucky that the timing was right.”

The nostril tick belonged to the genus Amblyomma, species of which are known to carry diseases that can infect mammals ranging from cows to people. But for now, that’s all Goldberg knows. “Its genetic sequence didn’t match anything in any known databases. So it could be a known species of tick that hasn’t been genetically characterized yet, or a completely new species,” he says. Goldberg reports his analysis in the latest issue of The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

“It’s fun to welcome Tony to that small, elite club of publishers on ticks in the nose,” says Gary Aronsen, an anthropologist at Yale University who is one of the few other scientists to have written about a close encounter with a nostril tick. (He sneezed his out during a layover in Amsterdam and brought it home with him in a chewing gum wrapper, though he wasn’t able to sequence its DNA.) Picking up parasites like these is “part of the glory and glamour of fieldwork.”

Although researchers know very little about nostril ticks, including which other species they infest and if they carry any diseases, Goldberg speculates that his might be adapted to live in noses of chimpanzees. Chimps are fastidious groomers, so any parasite that wants to hang around for a while needs to fly under the radar. “I can’t think of a better way to do that than hide in an anatomic site that is difficult to access with the fingers,” Goldberg says. “There are several of those—some of which we won’t discuss—but the nostril certainly counts.” (In case you’re wondering, yes, chimps do pick their noses, but it doesn’t seem to dislodge the ticks.)

Because most ticks need to feed on at least three different hosts in their lifetimes, they are exceptionally good at transmitting disease. Species-jumping nostril ticks are “yet another example of how nature provides opportunities for pathogen spillover,” says tick biologist Thomas Mather of the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. Still, the thought of nostril ticks spreading throughout North America isn’t keeping him up at night. “I’m not looking at this as a likely pathway for the introduction of exotic ticks. How many ticks are going to be in a person or two’s nose?”

Nearly a year and a half after removing his own nostril tick, Goldberg hasn’t suffered any ill effects. But the parasite remains a mysterious creature, and for now, the only thing to do is wait for more specimens to turn up. He hopes his paper will raise awareness among his fellow field scientists. Soon, he suspects, “somebody somewhere will come up with another nose tick and will advance the field to the next level.”

This Little Sticker Works Like an Anti-Mosquito Force Field.

Mosquitos were born to bite us, and aside from lighting worthless tiki candles, haplessly swatting them away, or resorting to spraying toxic DEET all over ourselves, there’s really not a whole lot we can do about it. Imagine then, if you could be encapsulated in an anti-mosquito bubble simply by wearing a small square sticker. Not only would it save mosquito-magnets like myself some really uncomfortable moments, it could be a major game changer in the way we prevent mosquito-borne illnesses like Malaria, Dengue Fever, and West Nile Virus.


The good news is that a sticker like this is not some far away concept dreamed up by scientists in a lab–it’s actually a real thing that you’ll likely be able to find on the shelves of your local Walgreens sometime in the not-so-distant future.

Essentially, the Kite Patch is a little square sticker that emits a cloak of chemical compounds that blocks a mosquito’s ability to sense humans. According to its developers, users simply have to place the patch onto their clothes, and they become invisible to mosquitoes for up to 48 hours. This is big news for developing countries like Uganda, where residents have little beyond mosquito nets and toxic sprays to combat the illness-spreading insects.

That’s exactly where Kite’s creators, a collaborative team made up of innovation venture capital group ieCrowd and Olfactor Laboratories, intend to ship these off to as soon as they’re done blowing past their second goal on global crowdsourcing site Indiegogo. Launched just last month, the campaign surpassed its original goal of $75,000 in just four days and is now gunning for a new goal of $385,000 (currently at $336,000).

Though the Kite seems a little fantastical, it’s backed by some legitimate technology. Back in 2011, Dr. Anandasankar Ray, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside (and founder of Olfactor Labs), found that certain chemical compounds can inhibit the carbon dioxide receptors in mosquitoes. These smelly compounds, which act like a anti-mosquito force field, are able to disorient the bugs, whose main method of tracking down humans is through our exhalation of CO2.

The findings were considered a breakthrough moment in the field, but the technology was far from ready to be applied to a consumer product mostly because the compounds were toxic and wouldn’t be able to pass through FDA and EPA approval. “It wasn’t ready to be placed into a product that could mean something globally,” explains Grey Frandsen, Vice President at ieCrowd. That’s where his company came in.


ieCrowd basically functions as the belt of an innovation assembly line, guiding an idea through the necessary steps so it can become a widely distributed, (hopefully) world-changing product. It begins with acquiring the intellectual property, like they did with Dr. Ray’s research. From there they provide all of the business infrastructure, marketing, and general support so subsidiary companies can focus exclusively on developing new technology. In the case of the Kite Patch, ieCrowd worked with a group of scientists at Olfactor Laboratories, a research facility in Riverside, Calif. that developed a new targeted library of chemical compounds based on Dr. Ray’s original research.

Olfactor’s non-toxic compounds work against mosquitoes’ long-range abilities to detect humans through CO2, as well as dampening the insect’s short-range ability to sense us from our basic human odors. These chemicals, which give off a “faint pleasant smell,” will be applied to a small sticker, which Frandsen notes is the cheapest, easiest, and most adaptable way to design a spatial insect repellant. The patches will then be shipped off to Uganda for field testing, which should begin before the end of the year. “Really, what we’re doing is creating a rapid scientific development process, a rapid prototyping process and then a very aggressive go to market strategy,” Frandsen says of ieCrowd’s method.

The product has had a little help along the way, namely from the National Institutes of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. “The big names behind us have helped us advance the science,” Frandsen says. “But those grants do not cover product development.” All of the money raised from the Indiegogo campaign will be funneled into extensive field testing. Originally, the testing was going to provide 20,000 patches (around 1 million hours of coverage) to one district in Uganda. The extra money raised will double the number of Kite Patches shipped and expand the coverage to four million hours in three political districts in the country.

“This technology is too important to just funnel directly to the Walgreens.”

The idea is to refine the Kite as much as possible during the field testing and hone in on three main goals, the first being to analyze the adaptability of the patch. So, is it easy to apply and wear? Does it work well both at morning and at night? Does it fall off people’s clothing at after a certain point? The second is to test the effectiveness of the technology in harsh conditions found in places like Sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists have yet to determine exactly how far the sticker’s spatial radius extends and will be looking to see how it reacts to wind and extreme weather. Lastly, the field testing will evaluate how the sticker interacts with and can supplement current malaria prevention technology like bed nets.

“We’re looking at: What are any shortfalls specifically relating to the design that we can solve for that don’t come from testing it with 100 people in the Canadian Rockies or in Florida?” Frandsen says. “So there’s this real life, real world use and evaluation of that.” The Kite has reportedly performed well inside the highly-controlled confines of a lab, but Frandsen says the most vital evaluation will come from the Kite Patch’s time in Africa.  “It’s a really unique way of doing product development,” he says of the extensive field testing. “It’s a lot easier to deal in private-equity markets or investments and just finish it.” But, he continues, “This technology is too important to just funnel directly to the Walgreens. It needs to be part and parcel of people’s daily lives all over the world.”

Tiny, wearable patch makes you invisible to mosquitos.

A mosquito can detect the carbon dioxide emanating from a prospective meal from hundreds of feet away. The Kite Patch, a small, non-toxic sticker that you place on your clothing, can jam a mosquito’s CO2 radar. Wear one, the patch’s creators say, and you’ll be effectively invisible to the bloodsuckers for up to 48 hours.

The Kite Patch was developed by Grey Frandsen, Michelle Brown and Torrey Tayanaka of Olfactor Laboratories and, according to the FAQ page at the patch’s website, is based on the findings of researcher Anandasankar Ray and his colleagues at University of California Riverside. If we had to guess, we’d say the FAQ are referring to this study, published by Ray and his team in a June 2011 issue of Nature, in which the researchers identify three groups of chemicals that can which disrupt a mosquito’s carbon dioxide receptors. 


Each group of chemicals works a little differently to confound its target. The first actually mimics carbon dioxide, and could be used to lure mosquitoes away from their human targets and into insect traps; the second prevents the mosquitoes from detecting carbon dioxide altogether; and the third actually switches the CO2-sensing machinery of the mosquitoes into overdrive, overloading the mosquitoes’ senses to the point of confusion.

In a project currently seeking funding on indiegogo, the team hopes to field test the patch in Uganda, “one of the toughest proving grounds there is”:

With your help, large-scale testing in Uganda will simultaneously provide over1,000,000 hours of protection during a large field test for families who are suffering from malaria infection rates of over 60% and allow us to optimize Kite before we begin scaling for global distribution.

The results will help us finalize the formulation and any last product design changes. Once the formulation is finalized we can begin the EPA registration process for the US. Once we have approval in the US, we will be capable of scaling the product for widespread and market-sensitive distribution – especially for those where mosquitoes mean life or death.

The Kite Patch is what’s known in epidemiological circles as as spatial repellant. In a review published last year in Malaria Journal, researchers note that spatial repellants have shown a lot of promise in the fight against disease-transmission by vectors like mosquitoes, but have yet to be incorporated into multi-lateral disease control programs. One reason for this is a lack of epidemiological data supporting their efficacy:

There is a critical need for Phase III community trials integrating simultaneous monitoring of infection incidence with vector population metrics… Such confirmatory studies will require unambiguous entomological measures of repellency versus irritancy and/or knock down effects in reducing vector entry into a given interior space or outside area, as well as reductions in vector biting densities (to include potential redirection to untreated spaces with human hosts) concurrent with reduced pathogen transmission. The challenge arises when designing an impact study to ensure both entomological and parasitological endpoints correlate with true repellency effects.

How rigorous the Kite Patch’s fields tests will actually be remains to be seen, but a project like this has the potential to provide tons of data, while helping the people who need it most. Fingers crossed for progress, everybody.


Ancient crop to protect wheat.

Using a crop popular in the Bronze Age but almost unknown today, University of Sydney scientists have helped pave the way to creating wheat resistant to the fungal disease stem rust.


“Wheat crops worldwide are vulnerable to this fungal disease and it has ruined entire harvests in Africa and the Middle East. The promise of creating wheat with greater resistance to stem rust is of major importance to the agricultural industry,” said Professor Harbans Bariana, from the University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Environment.

Professor Bariana’s student, Dr Sambavisam Periyannan, conducted research in a collaboration with the Faculty’s academics, CSIRO and scientists from the US and China on the molecular cloning of stem rust resistance gene Sr33. The results were recently published in the journalScience.

The researchers’ goal was to understand the molecular structure of a gene that exhibits resistance to the most important stem rust strain, Ug99. An estimated 90 percent of the world’s wheat harvest is vulnerable to Ug99.

The international research team used a gene from goat grass, a plant related to wheat. Goat grass was common over 5000 years ago but is rarely grown today and is a prohibited plant, considered a weed, in Australia.

“Colleagues at the CSIRO confirmed the cloning of Sr33 by inserting it in a modern wheat variety then testing it for stem rust,” Professor Bariana said.

“Australia has been more aware of the risk of stem rust than many other countries because of an epidemic in south-eastern Australia in 1973, which led to the creation of the National Wheat Rust Control Program,” said Professor Bariana.

While Australian researchers continued to work on creating resistant strains, the rest of the world’s wheat community experienced a wake-up call in 1999 with the detection of the highly virulent Ug99 race of stem rust in Uganda.

The latest edition of Science which reported the University’s collaborative research, also describes an American study identifying a different gene, Sr35 in a plant related to wheat and able to provide good levels of stem rust resistance.

“It is in the long-term interest of wheat breeders to develop varieties with broad spectrum resistance through combinations of different genes, but to do that we need to understand the nature of resistance genes,” Professor Bariana said. These studies have delivered robust markers to combine Sr33 and Sr35 in future wheat varieties.

“This latest research marks significant progress towards that long-term goal.”



Uganda: Immunization — Parents to Face Arrest.


Story at-a-glance

  • Ugandan President Museveni issued a warning that parents who choose not to vaccinate their children will be punished severely, and the decision treated as a crime
  • In the US, children have been barred from attending public education institutions and adults have been fired from their jobs for choosing to avoid vaccination
  • The real issue surrounding vaccine mandates is not one of public health; it’s one of money, power and an assault on your freedom
  • You have the right to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of pharmaceutical products – like vaccines – and be allowed to make a fully conscious choice about whether or not you decide to take the risk, without being punished for it – but this right is increasingly under attack in the US and around the globe

Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children will be punished severely, and the decision treated as a crime, according to a warning issued earlier this month by Ugandan President Museveni.

Speaking at a primary school for the launch of the 10-valent pneumococcal vaccine (PCV 10), President Museveni said:1

“I’m going to consult with my people on what penalty should be given to parents who do not bring their children for immunization because some are just reluctant to do so.”

Jail Time for Making an Informed Medical Decision for Your Child?

President Museveni’s warning echoes threats being made around the globe, with the “public health police” coming after those who choose not to vaccinate their children, or make other “non-conventional” medical choices for them.

In Uganda, parents may soon face arrest, fines and jail time if they choose not to have their children vaccinated. In the US, children have been barred from attending public education institutions, and adults have been fired from their jobs, and these are just the latest tactics in a coordinated effort aimed at eliminating all vaccine exemptions.

Make no mistake … what’s happening in Uganda could soon be happening in the US, as vaccine choice is increasingly being targeted by public health officials and other vaccine proponents. All 50 states have enacted vaccine laws that require proof children have received a certain number of vaccinations in order to attend daycare, middle school, high school and college.

However, all 50 states currently allow a medical exemption to vaccination (medical exemptions must be approved by an M.D. or D.O.); 48 states allow a religious exemption to vaccination; and 17 states allow a personal, philosophical or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination for children attending school. But these exemptions are increasingly under attack.

Is Vaccination Necessary for the Greater Good?

Warnings like the one from President Museveni are often given under the pretense that such enforcement is necessary to protect public health. In the Ugandan case, it was referring to the PCV 10 shot, which is intended to protect children from pneumococcal infections, such as pneumonia and meningitis.

But the real issue surrounding vaccine mandates is not one of public health; it’s one of money, power and an assault on your freedom.

In the US, for instance, recent outbreaks of pertussis, measles, and mumps have officially been blamed on those who are unvaccinated, even though the diseases have occurred primarily in people who were vaccinated, and no one seems to be able to fully explain how that is the fault of those who are unvaccinated…

If the vaccine theory was correct, these people should have been protected because they were vaccinated. Published studies into the outbreaks have revealed that a lot of the blame should be placed on ineffective vaccines – not on the unvaccinated minority – yet vaccines continue to be pushed as the best way to protect against infectious disease.

Even President Museveni acknowledged that parents need to be boiling drinking water, using clean latrines and eating properly in order to help curb the spread of pneumococcal infections, yet still threatened parents with severe punishment for choosing not to vaccinate, implying that not doing so would put the entire country at risk.

This concept of “herd immunity,” the idea that when the majority of the community is vaccinated against a contagious disease, it offers protection for everyone in the community because there is little opportunity for an outbreak to occur, is widely promoted in the US as well, even though vaccines do not confer the same kind of immunity as being challenged by and overcoming the natural disease.

The science clearly shows that there’s a big difference between naturally acquired herd immunity and vaccine-induced herd immunity, as natural infection typically gives lifelong immunity, while vaccines only confer temporary (and incomplete) protection. Thus, the idea of vaccine-induced herd immunity is seriously flawed because when the vaccine’s protective period wanes, there is no more herd immunity.

In order to eradicate infectious disease from a nation, you need sanitation facilities, toilets, healthy food and clean water, as well as children and a population with healthy immune systems, yet vaccinations are typically touted as the first and best line of defense, while these important basics are largely overlooked.

Vaccinations May Increase Resistant Infection Rates

It’s imperative that your right to informed consent is protected, as the safety and efficacy of taking multiple vaccinations in childhood has never been proven. Instead what we are now seeing is a rise in vaccine-induced diseases.

For instance, certain hard-to-treat bacterial infections in children are on the rise because of the widespread use of antibiotics and the conjugated pneumococcal vaccines2 and a rise in shingles cases in adults has been linked to the chickenpox vaccine.3 The Prevnar pneumococcal vaccine has also been linked to the development of a deadly form of strep bacteria called 19A,4 which has developed super resistance and is spreading.

To put it simply, the widespread use of vaccinations may trigger bacterial adaptations leading to antibiotic-resistant bacterial diseases and vaccine-resistant viral diseases. Cases noted in the literature include:

  • Whooping Cough: In Australia, dangerous new strains of whooping cough bacteria were reported in March 2012.5 The vaccine, researchers said, was responsible. The reason for this is because, while whooping cough is primarily attributed toBordetella pertussis infection, it is also caused by another closely related pathogen called B. parapertussis, which the vaccine does NOT protect against.

Two years earlier, scientists at Penn State had already reported that receiving the pertussis vaccine significantly enhanced nasal colonization of B. parapertussis, thereby promoting vaccine-resistant whooping cough outbreaks.6

  • Hepatitis B: In 2007, immunologists discovered mutated vaccine-resistant viruses were causing disease.7
  • Polio: The oral polio vaccine, which is still used in many third-world countries, is made from live polio viruses, and carries a risk of causing polio. The viruses in the vaccine can also mutate or recombine into a deadlier version, igniting new outbreaks.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admits that 154 cases of polio in the US that occurred between 1980 and 1999 were vaccine-associated, or on average 8 cases per year in the US.8

Your Freedom is Under Attack

Informed consent to medical risk taking is a human right. You have the right to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of pharmaceutical products – like vaccines – and be allowed to make a fully conscious choice about whether or not you decide to take the risk, without being punished for it like Ugandan President Museveni is suggesting. More than $2.5 billion dollars has been awarded to children and adults in America who have been seriously injured by vaccines. Yet those rights are increasingly being taken away.

For example, last year health officials in New Mexico changed their vaccine exemption form so that philosophical objections are no longer an option. In Vermont, the legal right to take a vaccine exemption for philosophical beliefs was also threatened with bills promoted by two Vermont legislators, State Senator Kevin Mullin and State Representative George Till.

They joined with the Vermont Health Commissioner, Dr. Harry Chen, to lead a crusade to take away philosophical exemption to vaccination but the bills went down in defeat after supporters of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) and Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice educated legislators and the public about the need to keep the philosophical exemption from being stripped from Vermont public health laws.

Get Informed Before You Vaccinate

All Americans need to know their options for legally opting-out of vaccinations, and you also need to know why it’s so important to protect this legal option, whether you choose to use every federally recommended vaccine for yourself and your children or not. No matter what vaccination choices you make for yourself or your family, there is a basic human right to be fully informed about all risks and have the ability to refuse to allow substances you consider to be harmful, toxic or poisonous to be forced upon you.

Unfortunately, the public-private business partnership between government health and defense agencies and pharmaceutical corporations manufacturing and marketing vaccines in the US is getting closer and closer. There is some serious discrimination against Americans, who want to be free to exercise their human right to informed consent to medical risk-taking when it comes to making voluntary decisions about which vaccines they and their children use. We cannot allow that happen!

It’s vitally important to know your legal rights and understand your options when it comes to using vaccines and prescription drugs. For example, your doctor is legally obligated to provide you with the CDC Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) sheet and discuss the potential symptoms of side effects of the vaccination(s) you or your child receive BEFORE vaccination takes place. If someone giving a vaccine does not do this, it is a violation of federal law. Furthermore, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 also requires doctors and other vaccine providers to:

  • Keep a permanent record of all vaccines given and the manufacturer’s name and lot number
  • Record serious health problems, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths that occur after vaccination in the patient’s permanent medical record
  • File an official report of all serious health problems, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following vaccination to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS)

If a vaccine provider fails to inform, record or report, it is a violation of federal law. It’s important to get all the facts before making your decision about vaccination; and to understand that you have the legal right to opt out of using a vaccine that you do not want you or your child to receive. But as mentioned earlier, vaccine exemptions are under attack in a number of states, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to protect the right to make informed, voluntary vaccination decisions.

What You Can Do to Make a Difference

While it seems “old-fashioned,” the only truly effective actions you can take to protect the right to informed consent to vaccination and expand your rights under the law to make voluntary vaccine choices, is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community.


Mass vaccination policies are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level, and it is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights will have the greatest impact.

Signing up to be a user of NVIC’s free online Advocacy Portal at gives you access to practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community. You will get real-time Action Alerts about what you can do if there are threats to vaccine exemptions in your state. With the click of a mouse or one touch on a Smartphone screen you will be put in touch with YOUR elected representatives so you can let them know how you feel and what you want them to do. Plus, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have all the information you need to make sure your voice is heard.

So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Contact Your Elected Officials

It is so important for you to reach out and make sure your concerns get on the radar of the leaders and opinion makers in your community, especially the politicians you elect who are directly involved in making vaccine laws in your state. These are your elected representatives, so you have a right and a responsibility to let them know what’s really happening in your life and the lives of people you know when it comes to vaccine mandates. Be sure to share the “real life” experiences that you, or people you know, have experienced with vaccination.

Internet Resources

I also encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website

  • NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries and death. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
  • If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
  • Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment by doctors or state officials for making independent vaccine choices.

Find a Doctor Who will Listen to Your Concerns

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don’t want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to punish patients and parents who become truly educated about health and vaccination and want to make vaccine choices instead of being forced to follow risky one-size-fits-all vaccine policies.

If you are treated with disrespect or are harassed in any way by a doctor (or government official), do not engage in an unproductive argument. You may want to contact an attorney, your elected state representatives or local media if you or your child are threatened.

However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they’re starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.

So take the time to locate and connect with a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.

Sources and References









Ebola outbreak in Uganda kills two.

Up to 90% of those who contract Ebola die from the virus.

A fresh outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Uganda has killed at least two people, the health minister has said.

Christine Ondoa said two members of the same family died over the weekend not far from the capital – and a third person was also suspected to have died in that area of the haemorrhagic fever.

An estimated 17 people died in western Uganda during an outbreak in July.

According to the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), there had been no cases since August.

‘Avoid gatherings’

Dr Ondoa said that investigators had found conclusive evidence of Ebola in Luweero, about 60km (37 miles) from the capital, Kampala.

A third man had also died in the area late last month after showing symptoms of Ebola however no samples were taken from the victim and the case was not reported to health officials at the times, she said.

Five people who came into contact with those who died are being monitored. Two of them have been admitted to an isolation unit at Kampala’s main Mulago hospital, the minister said.


There is no known cure for Ebola, but patients can be treated for their symptoms with antibiotics, drugs for pain relief and for other diseases such as malaria, to strengthen their resistance.

The virus causes death in 90% of human cases.

Dr Ondoa said the disease is “very infectious” and kills “in a short time”, but is “easily” preventable.

Among precautionary measures she urged people to take were:

  • Avoid public gatherings, including funerals, in affected districts
  • Bury victims immediately under the supervision of health officials
  • Avoid direct contact with body fluids of Ebola patients by using gloves and masks
  • Disinfect the bedding and clothing of an infected person and
  • Avoid eating dead animals, especially monkeys.

Uganda has seen several major Ebola outbreaks over the past 12 years.

The deadliest was in 2000 when 425 people were infected. More than half of them died.

The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in Kampala says many Ugandans are wondering why the country is so prone to Ebola outbreaks.

The government has said it is because its systems are getting better at detecting them.



Measuring Aerosol Production from Patients with Active TB.

Twenty-eight of 101 patients with culture-confirmed pulmonary tuberculosis had culture-positive cough aerosols, suggesting infectiousness; likelihood of a culture-positive aerosol was directly correlated with degree of sputum-smear positivity.

Although tuberculosis (TB) is transmitted by aerosols of droplet nuclei <5 µm in diameter, determination of infectiousness has been based on microscopic examination of sputum for the presence of organisms (smear assessment) — a method that may be neither sensitive nor specific. The magnitude and particle-size distributions of the aerosols generated by patients with active TB are unknown.

In a study conducted in Uganda, researchers attempted to collect, quantify, and size the aerosols produced by voluntary coughing in patients with active pulmonary TB and to compare these findings with results from sputum smears and aerosol cultures. Patients with culture-confirmed TB were asked to cough in two 5-minute sessions into a custom-built chamber that analyzed and collected their cough aerosol. Plates within the chamber contained 7H11 agar for mycobacterial culture.

Among the 101 patients, 28 produced aerosols that grew Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The proportion of patients who generated culture-positive aerosols increased significantly as the sputum smear microscopy grade increased (P=0.03). All patients with a culture-positive aerosol were smear positive; none of those with a negative smear produced a culture-positive aerosol. More than 96% of the culturable particles collected were between 0.7 and 4.7 µm in diameter.

Comment: Although the authors conclude that cough aerosols might provide a better determination of infectiousness than smear assessment, the data indicate that smear results correlate well with aerosol culture results.

Source: Journal Watch Infectious Diseases

Neonatal Mortality Risk Associated with Preterm Birth in East Africa, Adjusted by Weight for Gestational Age: Individual Participant Level Meta-Analysis.

Low birth weight and prematurity are amongst the strongest predictors of neonatal death. However, the extent to which they act independently is poorly understood. Our objective was to estimate the neonatal mortality risk associated with preterm birth when stratified by weight for gestational age in the high mortality setting of East Africa.

Methods and Findings

Members and collaborators of the Malaria and the MARCH Centers, at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, were contacted and protocols reviewed for East African studies that measured (1) birth weight, (2) gestational age at birth using antenatal ultrasound or neonatal assessment, and (3) neonatal mortality. Ten datasets were identified and four met the inclusion criteria. The four datasets (from Uganda, Kenya, and two from Tanzania) contained 5,727 births recorded between 1999–2010. 4,843 births had complete outcome data and were included in an individual participant level meta-analysis. 99% of 445 low birth weight (<2,500 g) babies were either preterm (<37 weeks gestation) or small for gestational age (below tenth percentile of weight for gestational age). 52% of 87 neonatal deaths occurred in preterm or small for gestational age babies. Babies born <34 weeks gestation had the highest odds of death compared to term babies (odds ratio [OR] 58.7 [95% CI 28.4–121.4]), with little difference when stratified by weight for gestational age. Babies born 34–36 weeks gestation with appropriate weight for gestational age had just three times the likelihood of neonatal death compared to babies born term, (OR 3.2 [95% CI 1.0–10.7]), but the likelihood for babies born 34–36 weeks who were also small for gestational age was 20 times higher (OR 19.8 [95% CI 8.3–47.4]). Only 1% of babies were born moderately premature and small for gestational age, but this group suffered 8% of deaths. Individual level data on newborns are scarce in East Africa; potential biases arising due to the non-systematic selection of the individual studies, or due to the methods applied for estimating gestational age, are discussed.


Moderately preterm babies who are also small for gestational age experience a considerably increased likelihood of neonatal death in East Africa.

Source: PLOS