A recent article published in the Homeland Security Newswire Oct 26,2011 titled “Government considers testing anthrax vaccine on children” discusses the issues currently being considered by the US Government for inoculating children for Anthrax. While the vaccine has been administered to adults with no ill effects to date. The question about the safety of vaccinating children has raised some serious questions. How is it justifiable to vaccinate children for Anthrax with a new untested drug when there is no immediate danger of anthrax present? The more rational answer of course is it’s better to test the drug now then to wait when there is a full blown emergency and find out only then whether or not the vaccine is safe for children.
The article does not go into detail about how well the vaccine was received by the adults (mostly military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan) or list any ill side-effects. Nor does the article explain where the US Government plans to locate these parents who will be willing to subject their children to a untested vaccine for a serious life threatening disease. Especially for a threat they may never come into contact with in their lifetime. Since this is an issue of proper preparedness there might be other options to consider. Companies like AdVnt Biotechnologies LLC, now provide early detection test for anthrax and now it is possible get results to show in as little as 3 to 15 minutes. Early detection of exposure will noramlly allow plenty of time for proper medical attention. But how much more prepared can we be through the use of vaccinations and more important, how safe can we make our children?
On the surface it seems that maybe the US Government is acting a bit hasty in getting this new vaccine to the general populace. It is important to remember in the framework of Domestic Preparedness, the argument can seem rational when confronted with the day to day possibility that at any time one person acting alone or in concert with others can create a bio-terror crisis by releasing weaponized anthrax or other harmful bio-agents into a heavily populated area. Therefore, being able to conceive of a plan to prepare a nation of fully vaccinated bystanders could go along way to contain the spread of such a threat if such an bio-terrorist event such as the release of anthrax were to occur. So we also have to take into consideration, what are the chances going to be of this event happening in or around our children?
To get a better understanding of this discussion, it might be a good idea to take a moment to step back and reacquaint ourselves with anthrax and why it has become one of the most notorious bad boys in the bio-threat arena. The Center of Disease Control has listed Anthrax as a class A agent meaning it poses a hazard to human health and is able to affect large population and requires a great deal of planning to control
Anthrax comes from the bacteria Bacillus anthracis and is able to spread through spore growth. Anthrax infection can be introduced through three manifestations, cutaneous (skin), inhalation, and gastrointestinal. The most common mode of Anthrax infection is cutaneous, which can enter the body though cuts or abrasions on skin. Anthrax can contaminate animal hides such as wool, hair products and leather goods from infected animals. It is also known for it’s ability to lay dormant in the ground or in the environment for extremely long periods of time. The symptoms of anthrax depends on the manner in which it is delivered to your system. If it is through the skin, symptoms include raised itchy bumps that resembles insect bites but within 1-2 days develops into a vesicle and then a painless ulcer, usually 1-3 cm in diameter, with a characteristic black necrotic (dying) area in the center accompanied by swollen Lymph glands near the adjacent area. Deaths are rare if treated with the appropriate antimicrobial therapy.
The second manifestation of anthrax is gastrointestinal and most likely to come from contaminated meat. Incidents of death through gastrointestinal contact is usually very high. Infections through gastrointestinal anthrax is an acute inflammation of the intestinal tract. Initial signs of nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever are followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea. Cases of gastrointestinal anthrax is higher then skin infection.
Anthrax can also be transmitted through inhalation. This method of infection presents the most serious threat to humans. Inhalation of anthrax resembles a common cold or flu like symptoms accompanied by a sore throat, mild fever, muscle aches with weakness and lightheadedness. Because of the familiar flu like symptoms, anthrax can infections can often be overlooked as a possible cause of infection for several days until the symptoms progress to severe breathing problems and toxic shock. The inhalation of anthrax is usually fatal.
Once the forensic details of the anthrax threats are laid out, it is easy to see why the development of a anthrax vaccine and it’s application has become a matter of concern for the US Government in designing a preparedness plan in case of a bio-terrorist anthrax attack. The risk of vaccinating children with a yet unproven drug seems pale in comparison with the harsh reality of what those children could be facing should they ever come into contact with weaponized anthrax. Imagine how parents felt when confronted with the choice of inoculating their children with the then unproven polio vaccine when they were confronted with the very real possibility of seeing their children infected with polio.
If the thought of you or your children getting vaccinated may seem irrational it is important to keep in mind that this controversial topic falls within the framework of Domestic Preparedness. Since 2006 AdVnt Biotechnologies LLC has been actively on the forefront of Bio-Warfare Detection, working actively within this framework and has a proven track record of success in bio-warfare detection world wide. AdVnt Biotechnologies has been awarded with the “Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 ( SAFETY ACT)“ Cerificate of Conformance and both AdVnt Biotechnologie’s BADD Anthrax Detection Test and Pro-Strip Multi-Agent Detection Test have been used around the global by first responders to rapidly detect the prescience of anthrax and other serious bio-threats targeted by bio-terrorist. Proven to reliably detect anthrax spores down to 1.55 – 1.6 x104FU/ml (Less than an infectious dose and not visible to the human eye), in as little as 15 minutes or less. AdVnt Biotechnologies rapid, reliable hand held assays have raised the bar in bio-detection standards.
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