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Amish Split on How to Face Polio Threat (4 new cases)

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posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 10:39 AM
Four cases of Polio have been found in Amish children in Minnisota. Some parents have decided to go for the vaccine while others are putting thier faith in god. With more cases expected, the vaccine should be mandatory for these children or this small community could potentialy wipe out a whole generation.

CLARISSA, Minn. - Residents of an isolated Amish community appear divided on what to do after doctors diagnosed four cases of the polio virus in their children. Some have decided on vaccinations to ward off future polio cases, while others prefer leaving the matter in God's hands.

About two dozen Amish households dot the hillsides in central Minnesota's rolling farm country. On Thursday, state health officials announced the four polio infections — the first known cases in the United States in five years.

The Amish community — it has no official name — has seen a flurry of visitors from the state Health Department after three siblings under 16 were diagnosed. Two weeks earlier, an infant from the community had been diagnosed with polio, and state doctors expect more cases to turn up.

posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 01:20 PM
Four cases in two dozen homes? That sounds like a lot!

So if I understand correctly, there is no moral objection to the vaccines, they just don't trust them?

posted on Oct, 18 2005 @ 09:10 AM

Originally posted by Relentless
Four cases in two dozen homes? That sounds like a lot!

So if I understand correctly, there is no moral objection to the vaccines, they just don't trust them?

If they don't drive cars or use electricity, why would they get a vaccine? Considering the particular vaccine has been on the market for ALOT less time than either cars or electricity. Unless a vaccine had been around for 200 years i dont think i'd trust it.

posted on Oct, 18 2005 @ 09:30 PM
It must be very scary to know polio is lurking in your very closed, close-knit community. The irony doesn't escape me that the polio virus threatening them is one related to the oral Sabine vaccine used up until 2000. I understand that the vaccine the Amish are now being offered, and in use since about 2000, is a new vaccine containing only the killed virus.

Earlier today when I first read this thread, I found an old 1999 news article covering one instance where a younster was one of the very rare unfortunates to succomb to this same strain of polio that the Amish are facing, after an oral Sabine live virus immunization in 1990:

Injected polio vaccine winning support - Oral delivery introduced the disease in rare cases

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which published new recommendations in January, is calling for a sequence of two injections followed by two doses of either vaccine. But the group expects to suggest an all-out switch to injected vaccine by 2001.

The injected vaccine is a strengthened version of the original Salk vaccine, hailed as a miracle of science when it was introduced in 1954 -- two years after the nation's worst polio epidemic. Made from killed virus, the vaccine is incapable of causing infection if made correctly.

In contrast, the oral vaccine contains a live, weakened virus that boosts immunity in virtually everyone but, in an unlucky few, triggers the disease.

Since the late 1970s, fewer than 12 cases of paralytic polio have occurred each year in the United States, a testament to the oral vaccine's ability to control a disease that crippled a president and put thousands of victims in leg braces and iron lungs. But in a cruel twist, the few cases that still occur are caused by the vaccine itself.

It really surprised me to learn from this article that the Sabine oral vaccine's controversial live virus was it's greatest strength as well as it's ultimate weakness:

People who took the oral vaccine harbored a protective virus that could be passed to others through the environment. As a result, someone who never took the vaccine could become immunized through contact with somebody who did. But there would be victims.

I certainly hope the Amish community seriously considers taking the new polio vaccine, as Fred T. states. They mention that the Sabine live virus vaccine is still used in other countries, and as people immigrate and visit here, you'd think that particular polio strain could and has apparently perpetuated. I wonder if those of us who took the Sabine oral vaccine when we were younger still harbor a "protective virus" we are spreading in our environment that could also be inadverdantly threatening a tiny few of unvaccinated people around us?

posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 09:52 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. - State health officials on Wednesday reported that a fifth Amish child in central Minnesota has contracted the polio virus.

The child's family is unrelated to two other families with children who have also tested positive for the virus, said Doug Schultz, a Minnesota Health Department spokesman. The families are all part of the an Amish community near Clarissa.

State epidemiologist Harry Hull last week said he expects more cases of polio infection to turn up as community members are tested. Most were never vaccinated.
Polio Outbreak

posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 11:29 AM
This is terrible news! I was also saddened to see that additional cases in the Amish community will likely be found after testing that is currently going on.

Although generally an isolated community, visits between Amish communities in the U.S. and Canada may be quite common according to a news article from the London Free Press in Canada. Yesterday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit, located in Ontario, Canada, was placed on alert when they learned that several members of an Amish community in Middlesex County recently visited the U.S. Amish Community in Minnesota currently experiencing the polio outbreak:

Health unit on polio alert

Area health unit staff are on alert for polio after learning Middlesex County residents visited an area in Minnesota hit with an outbreak of the dreaded disease that hasn't been found in Canada for 11 years.

Canadian authorities were alerted because Ontario is home to several Amish communities. Travel back and forth from Amish communities in the U.S. is common.

Thankfully, no polio cases have turned up yet in Ontario. Some Amish there are availing themselves of the polio vaccine being offered to their community:

In Middlesex, Pollett said the health unit is providing the Amish with educational materials and offering vaccines to people who want them. About 17 people have been vaccinated, he said.

An encouraging sign in another Canadian Amish community located in Elgin, is that apparently this particular community has a decent polio vaccination rate. I don't know much about Amish communities, but had assumed after reading about the Minnesota polio cases that polio vaccination was just not practiced. However, this apparently isn't the case:

Health staff in Elgin County have found no links between Amish residents there and the Minnesota cases, said Laura McLachlin, director of health protection for the Elgin- St. Thomas Health Unit. McLachlin said there are about 200 members of the Amish community in Elgin and unit staff have been contacting them, explaining the situation. "We actually have a pretty high vaccination rate with this population, so that is a good thing," she said.

posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 12:33 PM
No new cases reported yet in the news, but did come across this article today which gives us a few more facts on the polio outbreak:

Amish Community Dealing With Polio Virus

On the simple farms where about 600 Amish live, vaccinations are not standard issue, and now five children are infected with the polio virus. An Amish elder said he has decided to have his children vaccinated. He said he is doing what he can and will leave the rest in God's hands.

Minnesota's top doctors have been urging Amish around the state to get their children immunized. "During the last polio outbreak in 1979, cases only occurred in the Amish community," said Dr. Harry Hull, the Minnesota State Epidemiologist. "They did not spread to the general community, which again emphasizes the minimal risk."

The group of Amish moved to the area four years ago.

The article also states that although the last U.S. case was 6 years ago, the last polio outbreak was back in 1979 where all of the polio cases occurred in an Amish community. With 600 members, many almost certainly children, this community is certainly still at risk!

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