Yarn Along: Second Cuff, Second Time

 I think I finally got the pattern I’m working on right the second knit-up.  Rose has already claimed the first, large-and-floppy cuff for a legwarmer, so I’ll have to knit a second one of those for her, as well as a second, better-fitting one for myself.  Confusing!  But I do think I’ll have a free pattern to share soon.  I want to knit it through right another few times to make sure.  At least they knit up very quickly, and it hardly uses any yarn.  I’m seeing if it’s easier to break the yarn after each color row, and have a million ends to weave in afterwards, or if it’s better to have them all attached as you knit.  Four balls of yarn twisting around as I’m knitting is very annoying, but so was all the work with the darning needle.
I got this book – Dissolving Illusions – for Christmas, and Ethan and I are both reading it.  I had seen Dr. Humphries’s lectures before, and I was curious to read her book.  It’s really good, better than I expected, and not at all boring.  Actually, I had trouble putting it down, and I kept reading parts out loud to Ethan.
I first got interested in the issue of vaccination when I was in high school, and a friend of my mom’s son was vaccine damaged.  He went from being a normal child to suddenly having many seizures every day, and it was shocking to see how horrible it was for their family.  I’ve read about the issue over the past 15 years, but I still learned a lot from this book. Everything is well-backed up with scientific papers and government data, and there are many useful graphs and charts.
It starts with describing a change in the commons laws at the end of the 1700’s that drove thousands of people into cities, which quickly became extremely dirty and overcrowded.  This is when diseases like small pox, measles, and whooping cough became a big problem.  People worked 15-20 hour days in dangerous factories that spewed waste into the streets between overcrowded tenement houses.  Children were forced to work for the same long hours as the adults.  It was very dirty and very unhealthy, and diseases killed people all the time.  A long life span for these people was about 30 years, but most died in childhood.  They could not breastfeed their babies or rest when they were ill, and they did not have access to clean water or nourishing food.
Edward Jenner first claimed that cow pox infections made people immune to small pox – that’s the basis of the first vaccines.  Jenner’s “sample group” of vaccine success was only one boy, whose medical history was never looked in to (he could have already had small pox).  Other doctors at the time came forward and argued that they had seen people who had already had cow pox die from small pox, but Jenner kept inoculating people anyway.  Jenner’s method of making vaccines by transferring viruses between humans and animals actually made for some very deadly forms of foot and mouth disease and small pox that became major animal and human health problems.
One of my favorite parts was about a small pox vaccine culture that had been in use for more than 100 years by Wyeth.  About 10 years ago, scientists began to do DNA typing on the viruses in the culture to figure out which strains it immunized people for….they found thousands of strange and unknown viruses…but not small pox!  It was ordered to be destroyed, so we’ll never know what people were actually inoculated with for all those years.

Polio, measles and whooping cough are also discussed in detail.  She brings up research on how viruses are changing because of how vaccines have changed the immune response:  They program the immune system to respond to some, but not all, of the viral proteins in a specific way.

That’s why cases of these illnesses are mild and often asymptomatic in vaccinated people.  Often the symptoms of illness are actually the body’s immune response getting rid of the virus.  These asymptomatic infections are still very contagious, and have bad long-term health effects.  Rather than protecting from infection, vaccines actually program the immune system to not mount a strong enough response to get rid of the virus.

This has had the effect to encourage the viruses to change and adapt in ways that were thought very unlikely or impossible.  Because the viruses have encountered so many weak, vaccine-programmed immune responses, they are now resistant to them.  The mumps vaccine is practically useless because there are very common new strains resistant to the vaccine-programmed response (and this is actually a top issue with pro-vaccine researchers and scientists).  It’s like the viral version of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
 I could go on – this book is fascinating!

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