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Is Arthritis in Childhood Becoming the “New Normal?”

  • The Facts:Childhood arthritis rates are climbing, and it’s a problem we haven’t really seen before. Clearly, there are environmental causes, and it appears that vaccines might play a role in some of thee cases, among other factors.
  • Reflect On:With disease rates on the rise exponentially almost all across the board, why are we always focused on medication and management of these diseases instead of addressing the causes so we can talk about prevention?

For people who think of arthritis as a disease of the elderly, learning that children also suffer from arthritic conditions may come as a shock. Across age groups, various forms of arthritis are a growing public health problem in the United States. New cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and other types of autoimmune arthritis in young Americans are two to three times higher than in Canada, with cases occurring within the wider context of proliferating pediatric autoimmune disorders. Over one four-year period (2001-2004), the number of ambulatory care visits for pediatric arthritis and other rheumatologic conditions increased by 50%.

Currently, one child in 1,000 develops some form of chronic arthritis – about twice the estimated prevalence of the early 1980s.

The medical community lumps childhood arthritic disorders under the broader umbrella of “juvenile rheumatoid arthritis” or “juvenile idiopathic arthritis” (JIA). “Idiopathic” means “no identifiable cause.” There has been a predictable rush to pinpoint predisposing genetic factors, even though most of the genetic variations identified in JIA “are shared across other autoimmune disorders.” Of more practical relevance, an emerging consensus points to environmental factorsas major contributors to JIA, with childhood infections attracting particular attention.

In light of the interest in infections, how do we explain the deafening silence about the possible role of vaccines as an autoimmune trigger for JIA, when the stock-in-trade of vaccination is the “mimicking [of] a natural infection”? One study out of Brazil alludes to case reports linking autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as JIA to vaccination—but quickly dismisses the vaccine hypothesis as “controversial.” However, American children suffering from JIA and other debilitating autoimmune disorders deserve to know whether the dozens of vaccines they receive through age 18 are at least partially responsible for their misfortune.

A study published in 2001 found a temporal association between the infant hepatitis B vaccine and chronic arthritis (as well as other adverse health outcomes) in the general population of US children.

Diminished quality of life

Childhood arthritis—a disorder that results in permanent joint damage—is characterized by joint pain, swelling, stiffness and other symptoms that interfere with activities of daily living such as dressing and walking. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) understatedly describes the quality-of-life impact of JIA on all spheres of a child’s life as follows: “Juvenile arthritis can make it hard to take part in social and after-school activities, and it can make schoolwork more difficult.”

Currently, one child in 1,000 develops some form of chronic arthritis—about twice the estimated prevalence of the early 1980s. A diagnosis typically is conferred when a child under age 16 has experienced joint swelling for at least six weeks.

One intriguing historical study found that prenatal or neonatal presensitization to influenza triggered the subsequent onset of JIA upon reexposure to influenza virus. Does influenza vaccination, which targets pregnant women as well as children beginning at six months of age, represent a form of prenatal and neonatal

Assembling vaccine-related clues

Although JIA onset can be as young as six months of age, studies looking at childhood patterns of arthritis report dual peaks of onset in toddlers (1-2 years of age) and just prior to adolescence (8-12 years of age). The childhood vaccine schedule administers multiple vaccines during both of those windows, including hepatitis B vaccination in infancy and the first dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and meningococcal vaccines at ages 11-12 (or earlier). A study published in 2001 found a temporal association between the infant hepatitis B vaccine and chronic arthritis (as well as other adverse health outcomes) “in the general population of US children.”

Among the possible infectious candidates for JIA, researchers have pointed to several specific viruses—including influenza, rubella and Mycoplasma pneumoniae—that may “initiate or augment this chronic disorder.” One intriguing historical study found that prenatal or neonatal presensitization to influenza triggered the subsequent onset of JIA upon reexposure to influenza virus. Does influenza vaccination, which targets pregnant women as well as children beginning at six months of age, represent a form of prenatal and neonatal “presensitization” to influenza capable of laying the groundwork for JIA?

The Flulaval Quadrivalent influenza vaccine package insert shows that 13% of children (aged 5 through 17 years) reported arthralgia, described as a systemic adverse event.

This is a reasonable question to ask, particularly because of the seasonal pattern of JIA onset, with the winter months (just after influenza vaccination) representing “the peak time of year for new cases of JIA to present.” Moreover, a look at the package inserts of common childhood flu shots shows that arthralgia and arthritis (terms often used interchangeably to describe joint pain) are documented adverse reactions of the vaccines, both in clinical trials and postmarketing reports. Consider the two GlaxoSmithKline influenza vaccine formulations approved for children six months of age and older:

  • The package insert for the Fluarix Quadrivalent influenza vaccine describes arthralgia as one of the “most common systemic adverse reactions” in children aged 6 through 17 years—documented in one in ten children in that age group.
  • The Flulaval Quadrivalent influenza vaccine package insert shows that 13% of children (aged 5 through 17 years) reported arthralgia, described as a “systemic adverse event.”

It is somewhat more challenging to consider the association of rubella vaccination with joint pain because children typically are vaccinated for rubella in the context of one of two combination vaccines: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV). However, Merck manufactures a live virus rubella vaccine (Meruvax II). In the package insert, the company cautions that “postpubertal females should be informed of the frequent occurrence of generally self-limited arthralgia and/or arthritis beginning 2 to 4 weeks after vaccination.” Citing incidence rates for arthritis and arthralgia of 0% to 3% in children and 12% to 26% in adult women, the Meruvax II insert states that reactions in adolescent girls “appear to be intermediate in incidence between those seen in children and in adult women.”

There is no human vaccine for Mycoplasma pneumoniae (or M. pneumoniae), a species of bacteria typically associated with mild respiratory infections in humans (sometimes called “walking pneumonia”). (Efforts to develop a human vaccine have failed because they have, “ironically,…often led to exacerbation of disease.” However, six companies manufacture related pig vaccines in the U.S.) Disturbingly, mycoplasma are “commonly found as including in viral vaccine production, and “are too small to be seen under a standard lab microscope.” Although “the detection of mycoplasma contamination is of utmost concern in…vaccine manufacturing”—not least because contamination has the potential to “disrupt patterns of human gene expression”—studies have found that “half of all lab scientists fail to check for the presence of Mycoplasma in their cell cultures.”

Both Flulaval and Fluzone (some of the most commonly prescribed flu vaccines for children) contain thimerosal, the mercury-based vaccine preservative. In addition, numerous other vaccines on the childhood vaccine schedule contain aluminum

Metals and arthritis

2018 study published in Environmental Research notes that individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and other connective tissue diseases often display sensitivity to heavy metals such as mercury and nickel. The researchers hypothesize that “metal-specific T cell reactivity can act as an etiological agent in the propagation and chronification of rheumatic inflammation” (where “chronification” refers to the progression from transient to persistent). Holistic health practitioners would not be surprised by this hypothesis, having warned for years that the symptoms of heavy metal toxicity can “mimic those of certain autoimmune diseases,” including various types of arthritis.

Both Flulaval and Fluzone (some of the most commonly prescribed flu vaccines for children) contain thimerosal, the mercury-based vaccine preservative. In addition, numerous other vaccines on the childhood vaccine schedule contain aluminum.

Although researchers have noted that the mechanism linking infection to autoimmunity “is complex and multifaceted,” the phenomenon of “molecular mimicry” (whereby the immune system attacks “self” antigens that are structurally similar to “non-self” antigens) offers one likely explanation. Some investigators have posited that the aluminum adjuvants in vaccines can induce autoimmune illness through an acceleration of molecular mimicry. Do the metals in childhood vaccines play a role in triggering JIA? This is just one of many critical unanswered questions that need to be answered concerning the potential role of vaccination in the autoimmunity epidemics affecting both children and adults.

Please visit Children’s Health Defence for more information.

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Underworld

Havana Syndrome again? CIA officers are mowed down by a mysterious disease

A CIA officer in Moscow experienced symptoms of the so-called “Havana syndrome” in 2017. This became known to The New York Times with reference to sources in diplomatic circles.

CIA officer Mark Polimepulos, who helped lead covert operations in Russia and Europe, complained about the manifestation of mysterious symptoms. According to the newspaper, in December 2017, he felt severe dizziness, which later developed into a prolonged migraine, forcing him to retire. At that time, Polymerpoulos was 48 years old.

It is noted that such a case was not the only one. Similar symptoms were experienced by the staff of the American ambassadors in Cuba and China in 2016-2018. However, the exact number of cases and the place where this happened is not named. It is alleged that the US diplomats have tried to influence in a similar way around the world.

At the same time, the US State Department was unable to establish an unambiguous reason that caused the “Havana syndrome.” Among other things, it was assumed that the diplomats may have been exposed to an unidentified sound effect.

In 2017, it was reported that, beginning in late 2016, American diplomatic officials and their relatives in Cuba began to complain of symptoms such as hearing loss, nausea, headaches and balance disorder. 

The Associated Press received audio footage of the attack and described the harassing sounds as “the high-pitched sound of crickets combined with fingernails scratching on a board.” Then the American government suggested that Russia or China could be the culprit.

Many victims are still undergoing rehabilitation. Specialists from the University of Pennsylvania performed magnetic resonance imaging and revealed visible changes in the structure of the brain in the diplomatic missions.

Differences were found in 23 men and 17 women who complained of health problems while on diplomatic duties in Havana. Scientists have yet to figure out what causes the unusual symptoms.

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Underworld

How Russia and the United States nearly started a nuclear war in 1995

The Norwegian meteorological rocket incident remains the only time in history that the Russian president has activated his nuclear briefcase.

On January 25, 1995, Doomsday could have come in the world: the Russian Federation was preparing to launch a nuclear strike on the United States. How did it come about that the states that left the confrontation of the Cold War in the past and had just normalized relations with each other found themselves on the verge of mutual destruction?

The beginning of the war?

The cause of the crisis was an ordinary Norwegian meteorological rocket. Its launch from the small island of Anneia at 7 am local time (10 am Moscow time) towards Spitsbergen caused a stir in Russia. 

Black Brant XII.

Black Brant XII. Legion Media / ZUMA Press

Equipped with scientific equipment to study the aurora borealis, the Black Brant XII was similar in size to the nuclear-powered American Trident D-5 ballistic missile, intended for launch from submarines. In addition, it flew along a trajectory along which, as the Russian Defense Ministry believed, American missiles would fly in the event of a nuclear war. 

In December 1994, Norway informed 28 states, including Russia, about the planned launch, but did not give a specific date, limiting itself to specifying the period: from January 15 to February 10 of the next year. Due to bureaucratic delays, this information did not reach the Russian Missile Warning System, which sounded the alarm.

Decisive minutes

An emergency meeting with the country’s top political and military leadership was convened in the Kremlin. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Chief of the General Staff Mikhail Kolesnikov and President of the Russian Federation (as Supreme Commander-in-Chief) Boris Yeltsin had three strategic missile forces control terminals activated – the so-called nuclear suitcases.

Vladimir Sayapin / TASS

The military believed the lone missile could have been fired to create an electromagnetic pulse that knocked out Russian radars and communications systems. Following it, a massive blow could be expected.

For several tense minutes, as leaders watched it flight, it was decided whether Russia would launch a nuclear strike against the United States. 

“Little is known today about what Yeltsin said at the time, given that it could have been some of the most dangerous moments in the entire history of the nuclear era,” The Washington Post journalist, David Hoffman wrote three years after the incident : “They make it clear that the Cold War nuclear readiness system continues to operate, and how catastrophic its consequences could be, despite the fact that the feud between the great powers is already over.”   

The situation was discharged only when it became clear that the rocket had gone towards Spitsbergen (not far from which it fell into the ocean). The nuclear cases have been deactivated. Russian President Boris Yeltsin (center) and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (right).

Russian President Boris Yeltsin (center) and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (right). Igor Mikhalev / Sputnik

The incident with bringing Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces to combat readiness, soon became the property of the world community. When, four years later, the Norwegians were about to repeat their launch of Black Brant XII and reported this to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the US additionally warned all key Russian military departments about it through their channels. As a result, this time there were no unpleasant surprises. 

Source: rbth.com

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Underworld

Germany conducted exercises in case of nuclear war

Bundeswehr / Birthe Brechters

The Bundeswehr with partners in the North Atlantic Alliance ( NATO) trained in operations in a nuclear war.

The German army, together with Italian, Belgian and Dutch colleagues, conducted exercises in the event of a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons.

The location of the exercise “Steadfest Noon” was chosen airbase “Nörfenich”, where the tactical squadron of the Luftwaffe 31 “Boelcke” is located. Together with the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr, the air forces of other NATO countries, in particular, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, took part in the exercises.

According to a report by Bild, the exercise scenario involved training procedures for safely removing nuclear weapons from storage, delivering ammunition and installing them on aircraft. The training flights took place without nuclear weapons, and in parallel with the aviation exercises at the Büchel airbase, where the tactical squadron of the Luftwaffe 51 Immelman is located, the Resilient Guard air defense systems were trained to protect the airfield from air attacks.

The training sites for the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr were not chosen by chance, since the Nörfenich airbase is a reserve storage site for the B61, a hydrogen bomb that forms the basis of nuclear weapons of the US strategic nuclear forces. 

Some of this ammunition is stationed at NATO bases in Europe. The exact number of hydrogen bombs that are stored at European sites and which ones are not reported. In Europe, the B61 is carried by Panavia Tornado fighter-bombers (pictured) and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters.

Recall that the B61 thermonuclear bomb is the main weapon of the US strategic nuclear forces, although it entered service in 1968. Since 2012, a new guided version of the B61-12 has been under development, which will replace all B61 and B83 bombs that have been in service since 1983. It can be used both on strategic bombers and tactical aircraft. About two billion dollars were spent on the development of the 12th modification of the aerial bomb.

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