Saturday, February 12, 2005

Polio comes to Mecca

The New York Times > Health > New Concern on Polio Among Mecca Pilgrims:
Polio has been spreading from northern Nigeria since 2003, when vaccination campaigns there halted for months after Muslim imams and local politicians spread rumors that the vaccine could make women sterile or transmit AIDS, or was made with pork products.

Most cases from that outbreak have been in the largely Muslim Sahel, the band of arid land south of the Sahara stretching from Mali to Ethiopia. The remaining pockets elsewhere are also mostly in Muslim areas - Pakistan, northern India, Afghanistan and Egypt.
The OPV-HIV claims are believed to have played a role in the persistence of polio in Africa. The article describes some of the difficulties of getting vaccines into Africa, but elides the details of the conspiracy aspects of it.

I'll add that the reporting I've seen on AIDS and other communicable diseases in Africa indicates that control and elimination of diseases has been held back by beliefs in supernatural causes instead of naturalistic explanations.

And now back to covering the Kansas school board.

Wichita Eagle | 02/11/2005 | Evolution divides public at hearing:
Harry Gregory, who teaches biology at Kapaun Mount Carmel, a Catholic high school, commended the standard-writing committee for rejecting proposals designed to encourage consideration of alternative concepts to evolution.

Even with Kapaun's strong religious message about the origin of the world, Gregory said intelligent design has never come up in his class.

“There is no controversy about the fact of evolution (within science),” Gregory said.