community immunity

Confession #2,107

I have PCOS and diabetes along with a very slow metabolism and low imune system.Latley I’ve been showing sings of gluten intolerance and instead of being afraid I’m just tired.It’s like once you get sick the list just keeps growing and growing trying to swallow you.All the complications from diabetes have already cost me my vision, my theet, my immune system..I constantly feel like a whale and fall of track with diet because of my mental health too.A lot of days I need an ibuprofen just to function and get out of bed.I know wishing to be cured is unrealestic but for all I want for once is to be taken pity party just emphaty.Just because im 18 doesn’t mean I can’t be seriously ill.Get over it.

Dear Able-Bodied People:

I will stop talking about ableism
When you stop showing it to me
I will stop explaining why I cannot work
When you stop telling me why I can
I will stop talking about medications
When you stop telling me why I don’t need them
I will stop discussing what I cannot do
When you stop telling me what I can
I will stop saying that I’m struggling
When you stop questioning my illness
I will stop being angry
When you stop giving me reasons to be
I will stop fighting for awareness
When you become aware
“No I cannot walk”
“Yes I have been trying”
“I know you don’t understand why I can’t”
“I know that’s a lot of medication”
“Of course you have an Aunt with Fibromyalgia who works full time and still has time to raise a family, keep a clean house, volunteer, go sky diving, swim to the bottom of the ocean, and jump to the moon, but I’m sorry, no I cannot walk”


Day 7: Vaccinating protects you and others.

Herd (community) Immunity: indirectly protects those who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons (i.e. people with immune deficiency, and those who cannot form immunity). Herd Immunity only works when enough people are immunized in a population.

Herd Immunity works by stopping the spread of the disease. If a virus is unable to infect a new host it will die. By being immunized, there is less opportunity for the virus to thrive. It won’t be able to find a new host and this decreases its chances of reaching people who cannot get vaccinated.  

With the anti-vaccine movement, less people are being vaccinated, and we are not at the proper level for herd immunity to work. This is putting people at risk for catching these diseases and dying. The only way to protect them is by vaccinating, and stop giving the disease opportunity to spread.

Protect those who can’t protect themselves.

My heart truly goes out to the many sufferers of M.E. in the UK who have been confronted with one of the most degradingly titled articles on the illness to date, saying (directly quoted): “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not actually a chronic illness and sufferers can overcome symptoms by increasing exercise and thinking positively.” My heart sinks within me while I not only read these words, but your heartfelt responses of hurt and discouragement to them. We can all agree that the information isn’t weighty, but unfortunately, the pain it caused is. I cannot imagine the difficulty this is bringing to the lives of sufferers, not only as an insult to injury, but in potentially furthering the stigma M.E. has carried for too long.

There’s little I can say to comfort those of you feeling crushed by these words, but please let me encourage you that this illness is real; your pain is real; and it matters. You deserve compassion and not judgment. Believing that you can exercise or will your way into good health will result in one thing and one thing only: trauma. Physical trauma. Emotional trauma. Yes, it’s good to continue to live with the unshaken belief that healing is possible. Yes, it’s good to continue to try new things. But there are many conditions that contribute to illness that are out of our immediate control. Please, don’t let shame wash over you, telling you that you simply must try harder. Please, don’t wear the blame that perhaps if you “really” wanted to get better, you would. Those words do not hold even a glimmer or truth.

I may not be able to change the worldview of this illness, but no power will stop me from looking any of you in the eye in the midst of your suffering, reaching out a hand and a heart, and telling you that this illness is NOT your fault. I’m so sorry. Please know you are loved, and you are not alone.

Two studies give us a glimpse into our ancestors’ microbiome — you know, those trillions of bacteria that live in the human gut.

And the take-home message of the studies is clear: Western diets and modern-day hygiene have wiped a few dozen species right out of our digestive tracts. One missing microbe helps metabolize carbohydrates. Other bygone bacteria act as prebiotics. And another communicates with our immune system.

In other words, Americans’ digestive tracts look like barren deserts compared to the lush, tropical rainforest found inside indigenous people.

How Modern Life Depletes Our Gut Microbes

Illustration Credit: Maria Fabrizio for NPR

New treatment hope for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

A previously unknown link between the immune system and the death of motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, has been discovered by scientists at the CHUM Research Centre and the University of Montreal. The finding paves the way to a whole new approach for finding a drug that can cure or at least slow the progression of such neurodegenerative diseases as ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

The study, published in Nature Communications, shows that the immune system in the animal model C. elegans, a tiny 1 mm-long roundworm, plays a critical role in the development of ALS. “An imbalance of the immune system can contribute to the destruction of motor neurons and trigger the disease,” said Alex Parker, CRCHUM researcher and Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Montreal.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neuromuscular disease that attacks neurons and the spinal cord. Those affected gradually become paralyzed and typically die less than five years after the onset of symptoms. No effective remedy currently exists for this devastating affliction. Riluzole, the only approved medication only extends the patient’s life by a few months.

More than a dozen genes are related to ALS. If a mutation occurs in one of them, the person develops the disease. Scientists introduced a mutated human gene (TDP-43 or FUS) into C. elegans, a nematode worm widely used for genetic experiments. The worms became paralyzed within about 10 days. The challenge was to find a way of saving them from certain death. “We had the idea of modifying another gene—tir-1—known for its role in the immune system,” said Julie Veriepe, lead investigator and doctoral student under the supervision of Alex Parker. Results were remarkable. “Worms with an immune deficit resulting from the tir-1 gene’s mutation were in better health and suffered far less paralysis,” she added.

This study highlights a never previously suspected mechanism: even if the C. elegans worm has a very rudimentary immune system, that system triggers a misguided attack against the worm’s own neurons. “The worm thinks it has a viral or bacterial infection and launches an immune response. But the reaction is toxic and destroys the animal’s motor neurons,” Alex Parker explained.

Is the same scenario at work with people? Most likely. The human equivalent of the tir-1 gene—

SARM1—has proved crucial to the nervous system’s integrity. Researchers think the signalling pathway is identical for all genes associated with ALS. This makes the TIR-1 protein (or SARM1 in humans) an excellent therapeutic target for development of a medication. SARM1 is particularly important because it is part of the well-known kinase activation process, which can be blocked by existing drugs.

Alex Parker’s team is already actively testing drugs that have been previously approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of such disorders as rheumatoid arthritis, to see if they work with ALS. Obstacles still remain, however, before finding a remedy for curing or slowing the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. “In our studies with worms, we know the animal is sick because we caused the disease. This allows us to administer treatment very early in the worm’s life. But ALS is a disease of aging, which usually appears in humans around the age of 55. We do not know if a potential medication will prove effective if it is only given after appearance of symptoms. But we have clearly demonstrated that blocking this key protein curbs the disease’s progress in this worm,” Alex Parker concluded.

Some of the reasons I’m pro-vaccination
  1. Doctors can offer clear and systematised evidence of vaccines’ effectiveness and benefits. Anti-vaxxers can generally only offer anecdotes, speculation and unverifiable claims. Some of these claims, like the supposed link to autism, have been thoroughly debunked. 
  2. Children’s vaccines are not actually profitable for pharmaceutical companies or doctors. Many of them aren’t even patented. So the idea that there is a corrupt, commercial motive for promoting vaccines does not stand up to scrutiny. The profitable side of medicine is stuff like Viagra and nose jobs.
  3. Community immunity is necessary for the protection of children and adults who, for whatever reason, can’t be vaccinated, yet or ever. Babies who are too young to have had all their shots, and people whose immune systems are compromised in various ways, are counting on the rest of us to be vaccinated and not bring those dangerous germs near them. In fact, anti-vaxxers are also counting on the rest of us to do this, but they don’t have any such justification for doing so.
  4. Being sick sucks. It especially sucks when you are a young child who can’t imagine realistically very far into the future; they feel as if THIS IS JUST HOW LIFE IS NOW, with symptoms that range from uncomfortable to painful to terrifying. Seriously, have you ever had a cough so bad that your chest is in agony and it feels worse every time you cough because all your coughing muscles are strained and exhausted, and you can’t catch your breath in between coughs and sometimes it makes you throw up and you are struggling to get some AIR into your lungs and you really feel like you might die? Hi, I have - with asthma, which unfortunately can’t be prevented with a vaccine. It gives me a lot of empathy for how people with whooping cough must feel, though. I had chicken pox, before the vaccine was available, and I was miserable. Ditto rubella. Ghastly! And so, I don’t want any kid to have to go through that when it is so simply preventable. I don’t care if “it doesn’t kill them.” My childhood illnesses didn’t kill me (UNLESS I AM TYPING THIS FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE) but they didn’t do me any good. The immunity I’ve retained can be had from a vaccine nowadays, and that’s vastly preferable to spending several days feeling sick and so itchy you could scream. And the thing is, these illnesses do kill some children. And you can’t tell which ones are going to be so unlucky. It’s not a risk I want to take.