I have never seen a case of epiglottitis. I remember the stories I heard as a medical student: a young child comes to the ER with fever, drooling, and muffled voice - not just sick; a ticking time bomb. I was told that if the child was disturbed - even something as small as putting a tongue depressor in their mouth - the airway could suddenly close and the child could die in minutes. It scared me then.
Now, thanks to the fear-mongers for immunizations, I may get to see it. Today I got the following from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Hib Alert: 5 Cases, 1 Death
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced that five cases of Haemophilus influenzae, type b (Hib), invasive disease (meningitis, pneumonia and epiglottitis) were confirmed in 2008 in Minnesota. This is the highest number of cases of this vaccine-preventable disease in children under 5 years of age that Minnesota has seen since 1991.
Three patients had received no vaccinations due to parent or guardian deferral or refusal of vaccinations. One of the unimmunized patients, a 7-month-old infant, died of Hib disease. Two of the remaining children received age-appropriate immunizations. One child, a 5-month-old, had received two Hib immunizations. The other child was 15 months old and was fully vaccinated for age but, subsequent to Hib infection, was diagnosed with an immune deficiency (hypogammaglobulinemia).
Even in the conservative south I am having more parents falling prey to the immunization fear-mongers. People are questioning them - even ones that don't have the feared autism association. To my knowledge, HIB has never been a specific target of the anti-vaccination crowd (if you know otherwise, please tell me).
These parents probably thought "what's the harm? Why can't we just wait to do the immunizations until the risk is less?" A 7-month-old infant died from this logic.
As a pediatrician I work to keep children from unnecessary harm. I am expected to pick out the very sick child - the child with life-threatening disease - from the routine illnesses. It can be extremely difficult sometimes. Catching disease early can save the life of the child. Parents trust me to recognize this. They expect me to have the training and wisdom to know what to do to keep their child from harm.
But there are some who would suggest that I am deluded. I am brainwashed by the vaccine manufacturers, drug reps, or narrow-minded training. Yes, I can be trusted to rescue their child from the brink of death, but can I be counted on when I recommend vaccines? They trust me with the life of their baby when death is stalking, but what about when it is only a threat?
Horrible diseases have been prevented by immunizing children. Is it worth the "risk?"
Ask the parents of this 7-month-old baby.
I don't regret the fact that I have never seen epiglottitis. I don't want to. Trust me.
Please, trust me.