WYSONG HEALTH LETTER
Dr. R. L. Wysong
January 1992
*
Medical Revolution,
 
    We are in the midst of great changes.  We hear promises of a kinder, gentler nation, a new world order, glasnost, para stroika, democratization globally, the Green Movement, animal rights, and beating swords into plowshares.  All of these have commonality.  They are peaceful, they are non-invasive, kind, reflective.  They are prospective, and seem to signal a backing away from full-steam-ahead nationalism, industrialism, racism, sexism, exploitation, political domination, and similar oppressive actions.  Doesn't it seem, at least intellectually, as though there is a trend toward gentleness and respect for life in the world at large?
    The recent events in the Soviet Union, which appear to be truly historical, are dramatic examples of the move away from oppression, manipulation, and the invasion of freedoms.  Kindness, respect, and gentleness are the new operative words.  If these trends are more than simply passing fancies, which every indication would suggest they are, then we are indeed at the brink of new hope for our world.  These events are significant.  They cannot be simply blips in a descending line toward destruction of our Earth.  Increasingly people world-wide are seeing that these are the rational choices that must be made in order to know peace and health and to leave something to our children that is truly worthwhile.
    As I review primary medical and scientific sources for the Health Letter, I increasingly find reports that truly portend significant change.  They are the same changes we are seeing elsewhere.  They are changes of gentleness, toward more kindness, toward less invasion, manipulation and oppression.  They reflect a coming full circle to the realization that we understand little about biology.  Health results are much more positive with gentle support, caring direction for appropriate prevention, and lovingly administered palliation. 
    For example, in vascular disease atherosclerotic plaque impinges upon the lumina (opening within) of vessels, resulting in the interruption of blood flow distal (away from the heart) to the lesions.   In peripheral vascular disease this results in symptoms of intermittent claudication.  Peripheral vascular disease is often associated with diabetes mellitus, as is coronary vascular disease, and is often signaled by high blood triglyceride levels.
    In 1984 it was predicted that the new technique called percutaneous transluminal angioplasty would by and large replace bypass surgery as a treatment for peripheral vascular disease.  Since transluminal angioplasty is a less extensive procedure, it was predicted that it would save 352 lives, over $82 million dollars, and over 5,000 limbs each year.  The primary reason for surgical intervention with peripheral vascular disease is to salvage the limb.  Blood flow interrupted to a limb can cause gangrene in the limb and also disseminated infection and toxemia which can be fatal.  Thus, many limbs have been amputated to save lives.  
    In a recent study, 11 years worth of data between 1979 and 1989 were analyzed for Maryland.  Remarkably, a doubling of the rate of peripheral bypass surgery resulted in no major change in the frequency of lower limb amputations.  Further, it was found there was a substantial increase in the number of hospital days and total charges associated with these revascularization procedures compared to other methods of care.  So, in effect, all of the predicted goals of angioplasty went the opposite way.       The graph on page 2 demonstrates this.  You'll see that amputation remains pretty much the same, whereas both bypass surgeries and angioplasties have increased.
    Although the authors spend a considerable amount of time in the article attempting to explain this conundrum, no adequate explanation is advanced.  They suggest that it might be due to increased diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease, expanded indications for interventions, or increased numbers of repeat procedures.  The only thing that is not adequately addressed is whether either of the procedures, angioplasty or bypass, are truly beneficial – or whether many patients may do better without the procedures at all.
    In the same journal, another author writes an article entitled “Intermittent Claudication - Be Conservative.”   Although the author concedes that in certain extreme cases surgical intervention may be necessary and helpful, he argues that in many cases conservative, hands-off therapy would do patients far more good than intervention.
    Now, in the same journal let's move to another topic.  An article entitled “Perioperative Total Parenteral Nutrition in Surgical Patients,” assessed whether parenteral  (IV) nutrition decreased the incidence of serious complications after major abdominal or thoracic surgical procedures in malnourished patients.  Although this seems like an eminently logical approach since malnourishment, it would seem, would require nutrition, the authors found that the procedure should be restricted to only the severely malnourished, unless there are other very specific indications.  Aside from not demonstrating a valued benefit in most patients, randomized trials showed that parenteral nutrition was found to be associated with more infections and possible net harm to many patients as discussed in a follow-up article in the same journal entitled “Parenteral Nutrition - Is it Helpful?”
    This is only one journal of the dozens we review each month which present similar findings regarding a broad range of modern health care practices.  For the  physician who is au courent  (well read in the current literature) this must present unending intellectual and professional conflict.  On the one hand, practices such as parenteral nutrition, angioplasty and bypass surgery are routine and practiced on thousands of patients and assumed to be of value. On the other, data carefully collected in controlled settings demonstrates that such procedures may be useless if not indeed harmful.
    To keep current on such information means to be faced with constant dilemmas.  This crisis of choice is bound to mount into spiraling conflict and eventually a full blown revolution.  It will be more subtle than what we just saw on the streets of Moscow, but will be just as important in its impact.
    We are being forced to see that arteries being dilated or grafted, or vessels being injected with various isolated synthetic nutriments, are attached to a complex body.  Faced with evidence that many modern medical measures either do not help or actually harm, and increasing awareness of this information through an ever more alert and capable media, practitioners will be forced to change from the modus operandi of “first do something” to “first do no harm.”
    It does indeed seem like change is on the horizon.  Many factors can be credited, but it is likely that an increasingly educated world population, a global economy, and modern communication that removes all distance barriers  between peoples and information, helps the emergence of truth.
    It is illogical to treat the world socially, politically, biologically, environmentally, or medically as if it were simply a summation of parts which can be manipulated with impunity.  It is a synergistic whole.  This is both intuitively and factually correct.  If the world is an intricate life-like interconnected synergistic web, rather than just a summation of disconnected parts, then it follows logically that the world must be treated with respect, kindness and gentleness.  Noninvasion, nonmanipulation, contextual actions must replace our dominionistic, industrial, technocratic attitudes if peace, harmony, and social, environmental and biological health are to result. 
    Irrationality is the square root of all evil.  As people world-wide come to realize this, true beneficial change can indeed occur.
    Reference:
        The New England Journal of Medicine, August 22, 1991: 525-578.
 
Palliative Medicine
    What positive goals can be set for the physician and patient who are facing incurable illness and death?  What are the needs of such patients, and how can they best be met by the patient/family/medical community team?
    A few months ago we discussed the option of dying at home with dignity.  At the risk once again of dwelling on a topic none of us loves, I should share with you more ideas about how to face the inevitable.
    Palliative medicine is a relatively new philosophy.  It is similar to hospice-type care, but more closely linked with the traditional medical community.  Palliative medicine is a term being used for the medical care given when incurable and dying patients, either alone or with the help of their families and physicians, have decided to forego any further active, aggressive or invasive treatments.  Palliative care is not high-tech treatment, but it is not really contrary to modern medical technology.  It can be summarized as medical care with love rather than science as the driving force. It is an attempt to return to the traditional role of doctors and nurses - “to cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always.”  Unlike hospice, however, it does not, by and large, remove the physician from the scene.
    An excerpt from the writings of Halina Bortnowska, philosopher, author and hospice volunteer, sums up the difference between cure and care.  She writes: “Cure encompasses the military virtues of fighting, not giving up, and endurance, and necessarily contains a measure of hardness.   In contrast... care has human dignity as its central value and stresses the solidarity between the patient and the caregivers, an attitude which results in effective compassion.”  She stresses that it is important to give the patient the power to decide as much as possible, for as long as possible.
    Not surprisingly, one of the most critical problems facing the incurable or dying patient and the palliative care medical team is pain relief, especially with cancer.  According to the World Health Organization, the problem is immense: in developing countries, 25% of the population die from cancer, and two-thirds of patients with advanced cancer will experience severe pain.       Around the world today, at least four million people are suffering from cancer pain and most of these people probably are not receiving adequate pain relief.
    Relief of pain and other distressing symptoms is a primary goal of palliative care, according to Dr. Robert Twycross of the Churchill Hospital at Oxford, England.  This is not as simple as finding pain relief alone.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that symptom control has reached a point where most patients should expect to be free of pain for most of the time, there is the new problem that once they are comfortable, no longer distracted and exhausted by unrelieved pain, they now have more emotional and spiritual distress as they are feeling better, thinking more clearly, and free to contemplate the approach of death.   Very few people are stable or strong enough - or whatever it takes - to contemplate their deaths rationally and gracefully.  Rather, most physicians or caregivers are faced with a person in anguish, enraged, extremely fearful, and in need of great measures of help. 
    The palliative approach stresses that it is necessary to offer whole-person care.  The goals would be to help patients do their best, considering their strengths, their weaknesses and the difficulties ahead.  The patient must be met where he or she is; socially, culturally, psychologically, and spiritually as well as physically.  There is no such thing as a typical dying patient.  To be a good palliative caregiver, one must not only be loving, but flexible and adaptable, and a very quick witted judge of other human beings, their feelings, and their ever-evolving needs.
    When most of us think of death, aside from the fear of unfinished business left behind or the grief you will leave with loved ones, there is the fear of pain.  Who does not wish to simply slip away in the middle of a pleasant dream, in the twilight of our years, after a beautiful day relaxing with friends and family?  Unfortunately we see all too many wasting away in a hospital bed in pain, and we all fear this eventuality befalling us as well.  Pain is what we all want to avoid, both physical and mental.
    Pain relief itself is not an “all or none” question.  In a situation where complete pain relief is difficult to achieve, the goal should be set to help a patient move from a position in which he or she is mastered by the pain to one in which mastery is established over the pain.  While in theory the physician may strive for complete pain relief, partial pain relief may be acceptable – provided the patient's comfort level is definitely improved, the patient is physically and mentally rested and no longer exhausted by the pain, and both the patient and their family appear to be in control of the situation.   Only then will effectively addressing other needs of the patient be possible.   Physicians are traditionally relatively untrained in communication and patient relations, and will find the new challenges of palliative caregiving difficult to meet.
    Many cancer patients are extremely depressed and fearful early on during the course of their illness because they are experiencing pain and haven't realized yet that they can expect relief.  The goal set by the physician and patient can be pain-free, positive, and - to the degree possible - productive days and restful, sleepful nights.  Particularly helpful here are supportive physicians and skilled hospital or hospice staff members.  Very few people need  “suffer” from a disease as in times gone by.       The “suffering” can by and large be alleviated and productive living to the fullest can remain the goal, in spite of the disease.
    Creative living can continue to the end.  According to Dr. D.R. Frampton writing in the British Medical Journal, “Careers tend to have a preoccupation with treatment of one sort or another, things done to the patient or for the patient... Terminally ill patients already have to have so much done for them that they often have lost all sense of purpose and worth.” 
    An emphasis on the patient “doing” rather than “being done to” helps one to live and die as a whole person.  Some palliative care centers in Great Britain encourage creativity through poetry writing and art.  As Dr. Frampton says, “Poetry seems to be a vehicle for saying a lot in relatively few words.  Though a professional poet can express in very fine verse what it must be like to die, the inexpert poem of a dying person may end up speaking more clearly to the heart.”  In many cases, the caregivers need only give gentle encouragement to entice a patient into some activity which gives an increased sense of self and well-being.
    Palliative care involves companionship, which is one reason why hospices and special palliative care centers are more successful with this type of care.  The caregivers have to let the patient know that they have every intention of remaining interested in the patient.  Not all doctors, especially in high-tech intense hospital settings, are able to offer this.   Additionally, exactly how one person is able to give strength and reassurance to another person remains a mystery.  But palliative care centers suggest that being natural and friendly has a great deal to do with lending strength to the terminally ill patient, and giving unconditional acceptance and affirmation. 
    This means communicating to the patient that they will not be abandoned and that they are still important.  It is the purpose behind palliative care, and through giving this kind of care everyone's living is enriched.
    Hospice care is seen by many as young and open to new ideas.  Many hospices are places where care is excellent.   Staff members apparently possess unlimited amounts of love and dedication in spite of often times low salaries, and often high-tech physicians want little to do with them.   Thus hospices and similar centers may be vulnerable to infiltration by the “wrong types,” according to Dr. Doyle.  His hope, and that of many traditional medical community members, is that hospice can live within the traditional medical surroundings.
    Hospice is not necessarily a physical place - a brick building, so to speak.  It can be interpreted as a philosophy and here the terms hospice care and palliative care merge.  Like the hospice philosophy, palliative care is a team of caregivers meeting the needs of patients with advanced disease, with a short prognosis, for whom cure is impossible. 
    Moving away from the notion of cure, the focus of care is now on the quality of life.  To know that life's end need not involve suffering in an indifferent, cool, medical facility should be a relief to us all. 
    If you or someone you love needs hospice care, call the National Hospice Organization at 703-243-5900.  They will be able to tell you the location and benefits, opportunities, and resources available closest to you.
    Reference:
        Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal, 1991; Vol. 39, No. 2
 
Disembodied Living Heads
    Two brain surgeons, Drs. Kreiter and Kuhrig, delivered a paper at a medical society meeting in Paris in which they claim to have kept the severed head of an accident victim alive in a private Leipzig hospital for 20 days.  They reported that the patient was able to communicate by blinking his eyes in response to questions.  One western scientist said that he knew that the expertise was available for doing this for years but felt that it would be abhorrent to subject a human to such an experiment.
    On the same topic on May 19, 1987, the United States Patent Office gave a patent to Chet Fleming of St. Louis, Missouri for a device for perfusing an animal head.  The device would allow the severed head of a chimpanzee or monkey to be kept alive.  In addition, it might be possible to use this invention on terminally ill persons. 
T    he summary of the invention notes that: “The invention relates to a device, referred to herein as a “cabinet” which will provide physical and biochemical support for an animal's head which has been “discorporated” or “discorped” (i.e. severed from its body).   This device can be used to supply a discorped head with oxygenated blood and nutrients, by means of the tubes connected to arteries which pass through the neck.   If desired, the spine may be left attached to the discorped head...The severed head preferably should retain all the sensory organs, and the vocal cords if desired... the discorped head might experience a period of consciousness after it has been severed from the body.”
    I know this sounds sci-fi and looks ghastly, but it demonstrates the ends to which we are capable of going in treating living organisms as if they are comprised of parts.     
    As I have tried to emphasize repeatedly in the Health Letter, where you are pointed is likely the trail you will take.  If your philosophic orientation is that the world is simply a composite of parts, this atomistic, reductionistic view that the whole is really not greater than the parts but is simply a summation of them, then such experimentation is a natural consequence.  Given this philosophic orientation, there becomes nothing morally or ethically wrong with such manipulations.
    To others who consider that the whole is greater than the parts, and that respect, kindness and gentleness are virtues, the thought of such experimentation on live sentient creatures or human beings is enough to send chills up and down the (intact) spine.
    Reference:
        The Civil Abolitionist, Spring/Summer 1991
        Civis, Spring/Summer 1991.
 
German Measles Immunization
    Details from the case of Ruth Blonder, a 46-year-old social worker who is suing Evanston Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, indicate that the hospital policy is for employees to be immunized against rubella (German Measles) in order to protect pregnant hospital patients.  This policy is enforced, for lay personnel at least, to such a degree that she was fired from her job when she refused to take the rubella shot, even though she is a social worker who mainly counsels geriatric patients and has no contact with pregnant women.
    Mrs. Blonder is not just being stubborn, but rather truly fears the inoculation.  Her lawyer argues that she did extensive research and found the vaccine could cause side effects, such as rheumatoid arthritis which the U.S. government admits occurs in 2% of the people who take the vaccine.  A significant incidence of chronic arthritic symptoms occur in older women, especially increasing with age.  Additionally, the live rubella virus has been linked to Epstein-Barr syndrome, often refereed to as Yuppie Disease. 
    So, according to her lawyer, Mrs. Blonder presented her findings to the hospital and asked that an exception be made in her case.  Instead of making an exception of her, they made an example of her; she was fired. 
    Among her complaints, and part of the thrust of her suit, is sexual discrimination.  This arises because the vaccine affects women most adversely, and yet women on staff are required by the hospital to take it, while the doctors on staff, mostly men, are not required to take the vaccine - based on a technicality that the hospital does not consider them “employees.”   Thus the absurd scenario is that the physician with his hands on the pregnant patient isn't necessarily, and not even likely, vaccinated, but the woman mopping the hallway floors was forced to be vaccinated. 
    Indeed, shockingly enough - especially since the Evanston Hospital and most other hospitals enforce vaccination against rubella to ostensibly protect pregnant women - a study revealed more than a decade ago that the doctors who had the lowest vaccination rate for the German Measles vaccine were obstetrician/gynecologists.  Less than 10% of the doctors in that specialty   were immunized.  The next lowest rate - less than 1/3 of them - was among pediatricians.  Even the Journal of the American Medical Association printed an admission, in an article written in 1981 entitled “Rubella Vaccine and Susceptible Hospital Employees: Poor Physician Participation,” that physicians were not getting vaccinated due to “fear of unforeseen vaccine reactions.”  As more dangers of vaccines are brought to light, fewer physicians are getting themselves and their own families vaccinated. 
    The suit between Ruth Blonder and the Evanston Hospital promises to be a landmark case.  It could accomplish two important things: to help ensure that fairness and employment equity is part of the modern medical community, and to bring awareness of vaccine dangers more into the public eye.
    One woman, instructed to receive a rubella vaccine in Calgary when she applied for a marriage license, underwent the inoculation obediently and trustingly.  A few weeks later she began experiencing swelling and pain first in her big toe, then her hands and wrists.  A newly wed and newly hired teacher, she became so disabled that she could not open a jar.  The arthritis, brought on as a direct result of the rubella vaccine, has now subsided but lasted for five years.  She writes: “My whole world came crashing down.  It was terrifying.”
 
AIDS From Doctors
  Wisdom:  If you don't really know what's in the syringe, or how you will react to it, don't permit its injection into your body.
Like most of us, Kimberly Bergalis of Florida trusted the medical community, and specifically trusted her dentist, Dr. Acer.  What she didn't know was that Dr. Acer had AIDS, just as a pregnant woman may not know her doctor has rubella.  In Kimberly's case, Dr. Acer passed the disease on to her.   This is what she wrote in an open letter to the medical community in April of this year:
    “When I was diagnosed with AIDS in December of '89, I was only 21 years old.  It was the shock of my life and my family's as well.  I have lived to see my hair fall out, my body lose over 40 lbs., blisters on my sides.  I've lived to go through nausea and vomiting, continual night sweats, chronic fevers of 103-104 that don't go away anymore.  I have cramping and diarrhea.  I now have confusion and forgetfulness.  I have lived through the torturous acne that infested my face and neck - brought on by AZT.       I have endured trips twice a week to Miami for three months only to receive painful IV injections.  I've had blood transfusions.  I've had a bone marrow biopsy.  I cried my heart out from the pain of the biopsy.
    I was infected by Dr. Acer in 1987.  My life has been sheer hell except for the good times and closeness with my family and my enjoyment for life and nature.  AIDS has slowly destroyed me.  Unless a cure is found, I will be another one of your statistics soon.
    Who do I blame?  Do I blame myself?  I sure don't.  I never used IV drugs, never slept with anyone and never had a blood transfusion.  I blame Dr. Acer and every single one of you bastards.  Anyone that knew that Dr. Acer was infected and had full-blown AIDS and stood by not doing a damn thing about it.   You are all just as guilty as he was...”
    In a 1987 interview, Dr. George Lundberg, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association said,   “If a patient asks an afflicted physician if he has AIDS, the physician is under no ethical duty to tell the truth.”  Never buy a used car from this man.  
    A Marshfield, Wisconsin surgeon feels differently.  Discovered to be HIV-positive, Dr. Ed Rozar, a former thoracic surgeon, went on Good Morning America in July of this year to say, “We have to stop protecting people who have this disease.  AIDS is not a civil rights matter.”   Also in July, Rozar told the Milwaukee Journal, “I knew in my heart I had to stop performing surgery.      Even if the risk of infecting a patient was one in a million, I didn't think it was worth it.”
    Unfortunately, not all doctors agree: A dentist died recently in Nokomis, Illinois, and hundreds of patients learned that he had AIDS when they read his obituary.  A surgeon in Marshfield, Wisconsin who had done about 800 coronary bypasses just recently notified his patients that he was exposed to AIDS back in 1989.  In Maryland, state officials are attempting to track down thousands of prison inmates who were treated by a dentist who died of AIDS in May.   Similarly, a dentist died two years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and only when a local television station obtained a copy of the dentist's death certificate was it revealed that he had AIDS.
    While our monthly Health Letter format is not sufficient to really follow AIDS, and I hesitate to just lightly “touch upon” such a ponderous subject, I would like to give a quick summation of what we've been asked to blindly believe about AIDS: First of all, government doctors told us that AIDS was transmissible only through multiple homosexual contacts.  Later, they admitted that heterosexual transmission was possible. Most recently, the Center for Disease Control has admitted that only one homosexual intercourse act is capable of resulting in AIDS transmission.   Initially, government doctors told us that only hemophiliacs and drug addicts were endangered by needles and blood.  Later, they admitted that blood transfusions throughout the U.S. could be contaminated.  Then, all blood products were suspect: plasma, gamma globulin, and the new hepatitis vaccine.  Most recently, doctors have discovered the proven danger of AIDS possibly present in semen specimens used for artificial insemination, as well as human organs used for transplants.  Now, they have announced the presence of the AIDS virus in human tears, saliva and sweat as well.   Hardly is there reason to believe anyone's pronouncements about what is or is not safe.
    Unfortunately, there is something of a caste system at work in our society.  Most people have no problem calling their mechanic on the carpet, so-to-speak, if their car isn't functioning well after repair work.  Most people hesitate only a bit to address their child's teacher, or their hairdresser, or the house painters, about problems.  But when it comes to the communication and relationship we have with physicians, they can become more inaccessible, more daunting, than anyone else we deal with.  The irony, of course, is that our lives, and not our turbo-charged engines, are on the line.  If ever there were a profession which should remain open to scrutiny and accountability for their work, it is the medical profession.  Yet it continues as exclusive, closed, awe-inspiring and secretive.  As the late Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, watchdog and critic of his own profession, wrote a few years ago, “The very term 'medical ethics' is an oxymoron (a contradiction in terms.)” 
    The solution is to take charge of your own medical destiny through study, exploration, and application. 
 
Polio Was Not Wiped Out By Vaccinations?
    Vaccinations are an emotionally charged issue with strong political and economic overtones.  Professionals conventionally educated and trained, and lay people alike, have come to believe that vaccinations are as important to our health as water.  We tend to believe that the scourges of the past have been vanquished as a result of vaccinations, and that civilization always teeters on the brink of the plague with vaccinations being our only safeguard.  Parents who do not have their children vaccinated are viewed as potential threats to the community.  Physicians who question the value of these medical measures are ostracized.
    One thing is certain.  If you embark on a study of vaccinations, exactly how they work, how they are made, their relationship to the immune system, and the history of their usage, you will not find certainty.
    Let me give you one example which I've touched on before in the Health Letter regarding the use of statistics in relation to polio.  Polio, unlike many other infectious diseases which have experienced a decline in the past, cannot be explained away by such things as sanitation, public water supplies, ventilation, nutrition, and so forth since its incidence rose while these things were in place in developed countries.   The disease, in fact, seems to occur only among more civilized peoples with the highest standards of sanitation.
    Jonas Salk, discoverer of the polio vaccine, has been hailed as the savior of countless lives.  In a folder distributed by the Virginia State Department of Health, for example, we are told that the polio vaccine reduced the incidence of polio in the United States from 18,000 cases of paralytic polio in 1954 to fewer than 20 in the years 1973 to 1978.  A recent article in Modern Maturity states that in 1953 there were 15,600 cases of paralytic polio in the United States and by 1957, “due to the Salk vaccine,” that number dropped to 2,499.
    But, not everyone agrees that the Salk vaccine is the cause of this decline.  Dr. Bernard Greenberg, who testified at the 1962 Congressional Hearings on HR 10541, stated that polio did not decline but that statistics were simply manipulated.
    In 1957, a spokesman for the North Carolina Health Department made claims about how polio had steadily decreased from 1953 to 1957 due to the polio vaccine.  However, upon examination of immunizations in this community, it was found that it was not until about 1956 that the vaccinations had reached significant parts of the population.  But, by 1954, there was already over a 61% drop in the number of polio cases.  Thus, the vaccine was credited for the demise of the disease prior to the time that the vaccine was even being used.
    Some other interesting manipulations of language and data: for example, a polio epidemic was redefined as being 35 cases per 100,000 per year after the polio vaccine was introduced, whereas it was defined as 20 cases per 100,000 population per year prior to the vaccination.  Thus, the epidemic could be cured simply by redefining how many infections in a population constitute an epidemic.
    There was also a redefinition of the disease.  In order to be classified as paralytic poliomyelitis, the patient had to exhibit paralytic symptoms for at least 60 days after the onset of the disease.   This was the definition after the introduction of the vaccine.  But, before the introduction of the vaccine the definition of paralytic polio was that the patient had to exhibit the symptoms for only 24 hours.  Prior to the vaccine, laboratory confirmation on the presence of residual paralysis was not required.  After the vaccine, it was.  Thus, in effect, it became more difficult to call symptoms characteristic of polio after the vaccine was introduced.  Thus, the diagnosis of the disease and the disease was being eradicated by definition, not by medical intervention.
    Also, prior to introduction of the vaccine, Coxsackie virus and aseptic meningitis were likely also labeled as paralytic polio myelitis, whereas after the vaccine, they were differentiated.
    I've reproduced on the right data from the Los Angeles County Health Index demonstrating that between 1955 and 1966 polio cases declined, whereas viral and aseptic meningitis increased.  Notice that the two are almost parallel, such that if what we would call polio would include both viral and aseptic meningitis, as it did prior to the vaccine, there has actually been no significant change in the number of cases of polio as it was previously defined.
    It is also interesting that there have been other polio epidemics in the United States, not just the one in the 50's.   There was one in the teens, and there was one in the thirties, also.  The first two simply went away like other past epidemics have.  Some researchers feel that the Salk vaccine was simply able to take credit for a natural decline in the disease which would have occurred whether or not the vaccine was introduced.
    Another consideration is that it is believed that over 40% of our population is not immunized against polio.  So the question becomes why is polio not a significant disease at this time.  Polio also appeared in Europe in the 40's and 50's, but disappeared without mass vaccination.   It's also significant to understand that less than 10% of the people in the world have been vaccinated against this disease.  But, it is not the scourge that we would be led to believe it should be without vaccination.
    As much as we would like to take credit for control over nature with our technology, the evidence shows that we do very little.  There is a natural cycle of infectious disease.  They decline as the immunity of the population increases.  Evidence shows, for example, that the polio virus was virtually ubiquitous before the introduction of the vaccine, and could be found in virtually any sample of city sewage that was examined.  Thus, many believe that natural immunity to polio was as close to being universal at the time the vaccine was introduced as it could ever be.  This was the true cause of the demise of the disease.
    I know that this is a heated and controversial subject, and it is like sacrilege to even suggest that something like the polio vaccine may not be responsible for the demise of the disease.
    If receiving vaccinations were absolutely innocuous, it would be one thing.  But, it is not.  Any manipulation, any invasive procedure has its potential dangers.  To circumvent the immune system by placing viruses in the blood and giving them access to major immune organs and tissues without giving our system any of its natural ways of ridding itself of the virus is indeed an experiment.  There are the potential immediate reactions to vaccines as I've discussed with measles, or which has been fairly well publicized about the DPT vaccine.   But there are other, more subtle concerns about trying to bypass, for example, the immune maturation process in young children.  The long-term residence of viruses or other foreign organisms within the cells of the immune system or other tissues is suspected to be linked to a variety of chronic and degenerative diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (as we've mentioned is related to measles), multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosis, Parkinson's disease, and perhaps even cancer.
    This makes sense.  Many vaccines are designed to be incorporated into the genetic material of our own cells.   The basic function of the immune system is to differentiate between self and nonself.  Vaccinations create a situation where nonself has been accepted into our genetic material, thus confusing the clear delineation between self and non-self.   This can perhaps set the stage for autoimmunity or self-attack, and thus, the precipitation of various diseases.
    These are all serious considerations and certainly deserving of further evaluation by anyone who is concerned about taking control of their own health destiny.  Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware – applies even when we're buying supposed set-in-stone truths like the reason we don't get polio is because technology has given us a vaccine.
    Reference:
        Immunization - The Reality Behind the Myth, Bergin & Garvey, 1988
        Modern Maturity, December 1984: 82
        Hearings before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 87th Congress, Second Session on H.R. 10541, May 1962: 94