Dana Ullman spreads anti-vaccination propoganda

By Keir Liddle

Skeptics of homeopathy will be well aware of Dana Ullman a vociferous supporter of homeopathy and prolific writer of books and articles in support of the notion that homeopathy is an efficacious system of medicine as opposed to outdated and disproved nonsense. He is the self styled “Mr Homeopathic.com” and can nearly always be guaranteed to respond to questions about his homeopathic belief system with superciliousness and an ill worn air of superiority.

However even some skeptics of homeopathy were surprised by a recent tweet from @homeopathicdana promoting anti-vaccination conpiracy theories.

We screen grabbed the tweet just in case Dana thinks better of it:

ullman tweet

The article Ullman links to can be found here. It’s central premise is basically “vaccination bad and evil”:

“Chicken pox vax gives little protection, kills & maims many, and treatment may kill children who’d have lived through the disease. So more children probably die now from vaccines & chicken pox than died of chicken pox before modern medicine. Worse, the vaccine may be triggering a new epidemic of shingles.”

The post is chock full of the usual conspiratorial anti-vaccination canards claiming that vaccinations don’t cure they cause illness and that they are all a Big Pharma conspiracy. Also worthy of note is that the article was produced with “particular thanks to Joseph Mercola2 that other arch quack, whose research on the topic apparently  provided the groundwork for this abysmal piece of anti-vaccination scaremongering.

The post makes the dangerous suggestion that people would be healthier if, instead of vaccinating, they simply allowed the symptoms of these diseases to run their natural course. Now while chickenpox is rarely fatal it is believed to be the cause of one third of stroke cases in children and it is also a main cause of Herpes Zoster more commonly known as the shingles. This condition may involve complications that affect several levels of the nervous system and cause many cranial neuropathies, polyneuritis, myelitis, or aseptic meningitis. Other serious effects that may occur in some cases include partial facial paralysis (usually temporary), ear damage, or encephalitis. During pregnancy, first infections with VZV, causing chickenpox, may lead to infection of the fetus and complications in the newborn, but chronic infection or reactivation in shingles are not associated with fetal infection.

There is also thought to be an increased risk of cancer after contracting shingles.

Now while these diseases may not generally be fatal they carry an increased risk of complications and health problems that can all be avoided through the simple action of vaccination. It is neither responsible or rational to suggest that people avoid vaccinating against these, and other more fatal, diseases in favour of unevidenced “natural” treatments.

This is a worldview that could potentially lead to disability or death in individuals who follow it. It is a world view that turns caring parents into little more than misguided child abusers. Anyone spreading such dangerous anti-vaccine propaganda should be ashamed.

Ullman is not renowned for his ability to critically assess or understand scientific research but even this is something of a step too far for him. Dedicating ones life to promoting homeopathy, building ones career on shilling magic water, is one thing. Spreading dangerous anti-vaccination nonsense is quite another.

Shame on Dana.

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9 Responses to Dana Ullman spreads anti-vaccination propoganda

  1. Skepticat_UK says:

    A lot more shame on gaia-health though.

  2. Guy Chapman says:

    Gaia Health is run by Heidi Stevenson, a homeopath based in Stirling. I am unsure whether the bullshit published there is covered by the ASA, it would only be covered if she used it as part of the promotion of her practice.

  3. cia parker says:

    I agree with Ullmann on the dangers of the varicella vaccine. I recommend that those interested in the subject read Dr. Mayer Eisenstein’s book Make an Informed Vaccine Decision, from which I take the following information: RP Wise, et al, published a study called “Postlicensure safety surveillance for varicella vaccine,” in J of AMA (Sept 13, 2000):1271-9. It found an adverse reaction rate of 67.5 per 100,000 doses sold. About 4% of these reports were of serious events, including anapylaxis, thrombocytopenia, Henoch-Shonlein purpura, encephalitis, transverse myelitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, Bell’s palsy, seizures, aseptic meningitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, pneumonia, pharyngitis, secondary bacterial infections, and shingles.

    Children under 4 had serious adverse reactions at a rate of 6.3%, children under 2 had serious reactions at a rate of 9.2%, and children vaccinated by mistake in their first year had serious adverse reactions at a rate of 9.2%.

    The FDA and CDC findings included a few case histories, such as that of a previously healthy 18-month old boy who had no previous history of vaccine reaction was admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital with a low platelet count. He began to bleed from the mouth, and died two days later of cerebral hemorrhage.

    Another child without previous convulsions had an absence seizure three days after the varicella vaccine, and after his second dose one month later, he reacted with two generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

    A four-year old girl developed hemiparesis two weeks after the varicella vaccine. Medical investigators said that “her apparent cerebrovascular accident assumes particular iimportance after a recent description of a significant statistical association between natural chickenpox and subsequent ischemic strokes in children.”

    Some VAERS reports of reactions to the varicella vaccine, given with their identification numbers:

    107121 one year old child gets vaccine, four days later develops rash, vomits, screams shrilly, goes into cardiac arrest, and dies.

    279453 15 month old baby gets vax and goes into life-threatening respiratory distress, hospitalized for it.

    121661 three year old child gets vax, nine days later paralyzed, unable to walk or urinate.

    106164 four year old develops chickenpox rash six days after vax and hospitalized with staph bacteremia.

    122210 four year old develops kidney damage two days after vax, two weeks later got chickenpox and superinfection, hospitalization required.

    80082 four year old develops lymphocytic leudemia, headaches, leg pain, bruises, and decreased hemoglobin and platelet counts starting day after vax, hospitalized for 28 days.

    88834 five year old gets vasculitis and Steens-Johnson syndrome five weeks after vax, hospitalized for 10 days.

    175928 eight year old becomes dizzy and confused three days after vax, went into seizures and lifeflghted to hospital.

    275714 eight year old boy gets vax, vomits, loses consciousness 10 minutes after shot, diagnosed with acute repieratory distress and rushed to ER.

    And many more. The disease is very rarely dangerous: before the vaccine program started in the US around 1995, millions of people got chickenpox every year, and of them, an average of 100 people a year died of complications from the disease. Shingles may follow either the natural disease (many years later) or the vaccine. The disease circulating in society causes a natural booster effect in those who have had the disease, preventing them from getting shingles. The reduction in the disease brought about by the vaccine has caused an increase of the very occasionally fatal shingles in the population.

    I had chickenpox when I was seven, my daughter caught it when I had shingles when she was nearly two. Neither of us had a serious case: she had fever and vomiting for one day, hundreds of lesions for a couple of weeks, one chickenpox scar next to her nose that finally disappeared several years later, and permanent immunity (though, like both recovered and vaccinated people, she may have shingles later in life). I think it would be better to discontinue the vaccine program and let the natural disease come back.

  4. You mention Dr Mayer Eisenstein in your comment.

    This makes for interesting reading:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-autism-doctor-eisenstein-may22,0,3826791.story

    his suburban Chicago practice, currently known as Homefirst, garnered an alarming record: It was on the losing side of one of the largest U.S. jury verdicts — $30 million — ever awarded to the family of a newborn in a wrongful-death suit.

    In court records dating back three decades, the families of dead and brain-damaged children repeatedly alleged that doctors who work for Eisenstein made harmful mistakes — sometimes the same error more than once. His practice also has been dogged by accusations in court records that its offshore malpractice policy was phony.

    More recently, that contrarian impulse has seen him create the Autism Recovery Clinic in Rolling Meadows. He treats autistic children with Lupron, an injectable drug sometimes used to chemically castrate sex offenders. Top endocrinologists and autism experts have dismissed the treatment as junk science.

    Eisenstein is not board-certified in any of the specialties relevant to autism and the use of Lupron, including pediatrics, endocrinology, neurology and psychiatry.

    In Eisenstein’s view, vitamin D has amazing powers, even when it comes to autism. In a recent presentation, he summarized his advice to parents succinctly, “No Vaccine and More Vitamin D = No Autism.”

    He looks like a very dangerous quack doing very real harm to his patients. I suspect I won’t purchase his book and further support him financially to support the abuse of children by misguided and loving parents.

  5. Guy Chapman says:

    Eisenstein passes the number one litmus test for quackery: there is a page on whale.to promoting him as a Brave Maverick Doctor.

    Orac has covered him in less flattering terms

  6. @ cia parker
    1) Ullman spreads lies for money. You cannot trust a word he says about health or science.

    2) VAERS is a tool for reporting incidents for possible investigation. These incidents frequently have nothing to do with the vaccination, e.g. car accidents. You cannot use VAERS as evidence of anything.

    3) Being infected with chicken pox does not give you “permanent immunity”. On the contrary, as with all the herpes family you are infected for life. The same virus can return – and is increasingly likely to do so as you grow older – as shingles. Shingles is an extremely painful, drawn-out disease for which current treatment is relatively ineffective. It is extremely distressing to see a child suffering from shingles, especially as the rare drugs that exist to combat the disease are not necessarily available in paediatric form. My younger daughter had an attack of shingles at age 10. It has left unsightly scars on her abdomen.

    4) Shingles episodes post vaccination are extremely rare. Shingles episodes post infection are not. The complications resulting from shingles in the elderly and other immunodepressed persons can be severe.

    5) If the “natural disease” was entirely benign, nobody would have wasted time and money developing a vaccine and getting it approved.

  7. Guy Chapman says:

    @Cia: There’s not much point saying this since a quick Google shows that you have been told it many times before, but for the benefit of anyone who might be so foolish as to believe your assertions: chickenpox is not harmless. Above all it is dangerous to unborn children, precisely the reason we also immunise against rubella.

  8. Adam Jacobs says:

    Hello Cia Parker

    You mention that only about 100 children a year died of chickenpox in the pre-vaccination era. You seem to be making the point that, since only 100 children died out of about 4 million, then clearly chickenpox doesn’t matter very much.

    May I suggest you try explaining that to 100 sets of grieving parents, and then see if you still think 100 deaths aren’t important? They may not be important to you, but I’m guessing they’re a bit more important to the parents who don’t have as many children as they used to.

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