Unreliable Anti-Vaccination Websites:
Whale.to
(http://www.whale.to/vaccines.html)


Since being involved in vaccine debate, I have seen multiple references to the Whale.to site who's webmaster, John, has accumulated a large amount of information - all anti-vaccine. I have to admit that I do typically ignore any links to the whale.to website now. This website is basically a repository for unsubstantiated misinformation that is deposited without any regard to validity. The majority of the information on the website do not list references and there are a large number of quotes from various sources that state opinion and not necessarily fact. Some of the information is supposedly supported by scientific references, but when one has access to the actual scientific literature, it becomes evident that the references are misused and misquoted.

Here are a few examples:


(1) A link where the article is misused:

“Yet, in a California survey reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 90 percent of the obstetrician-gynecologists refused to be vaccinated”

Actually the JAMA article (JAMA 1981 Feb 20;245(7):711-3 Rubella vaccine and susceptible hospital employees. Poor physician participation.) the rubella susceptible physicians did not participate in a vaccination program. The hospital arranged a vaccination program for all susceptible hospital employees and does not specify how many doctors were actually able to attend. The article did not state that physicians *refused* to be vaccinated.## (see note below)


(2) A link where the article is also misused:

“the US mandated the DPT vaccine in 1978 there was a documented 300% sustained increase in the reported cases of whooping cough, and it is still rising, to the point that, with mandatory vaccination in most states and 5 doses of the vaccine, it now occurs at a far higher rate than before the introduction of the vaccine (see Sutter, R.W., and Cochi, S.L., 1992. Pertussis hospitalisations andmortality in the United States, 1985-1988. J Amer Med Ass;267(3):386-390).”

The Sutter and Cochi article did NOT imply that pertussis was ineffective in controlling infection. Here is what Dr. Stephen Cochi (co-author of the article in question) said regarding the incorrect conclusion from this study: "You are correct that that was NOT the conclusion of the article. Quite the contrary - - our study focused on the system for reporting pertussis cases and deaths. We were trying to document that, like most disease surveillance systems, the pertussis surveillance we have in the US was substantially underestimating the magnitude of pertussis disease still occurring in the US. This was not through the fault of the vaccine (no vaccine is 100% effective), but to a large extent because we were not achieving high coverage in infants and preschool-aged children, and reaching these children with vaccination in an age-appropriate fashion before they were exposed to pertussis."


(3) A link where the article information is exaggerated and used to mislead:

"Almost five years ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association, I published a study of 446 children, half of whom had not been vaccinated against whooping cough. All the children had been breast fed exclusively for at least six months, which eliminated the problem of diet triggering health problems. The rate of asthma was five times higher among youngsters who had been immunised"

I believe Odent was referring to this: "Pertussis Vaccination and Asthma: Is There a Link?" M Odent, MD; JAMA, August 24/31, 1994 - vol 272, no 8. Why he didn't reference his own article is unclear to me. First, this was not an article, it was a *letter* to the editor of JAMA describing findings that were not part of a designated study. This comment was based on findings of children who had received whole cell DTP prior to the change to all DTaP. The authors did NOT account for asthma risk factors between the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups when calculating their relative risk. The "results" of his uncontrolled study holds no validity.


(4) An example about which the webmaster once stated: "Non-drug medicine has been ignored which could deal with measles complications".

This is factually incorrect. The AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases state in the Red Book:

"Vitamin A. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) recommend administration of vitamin A to all children diagnosed with measles in communities where vitamin A deficiency is a recognized problem and where mortality related to measles is 1% or greater. Vitamin A treatment of children with measles in developing countries has been associated with reduction in morbidity and mortality. Although vitamin A deficiency is not recognized as a major problem in the United States, low serum concentrations of vitamin A have been found in children with severe measles. Hence, vitamin A supplementation should be considered in the following circumstances..."


(5) A link that refers to a study used frequently on anti-vaccination sites:

"It is noteworthy that vaccines such as pertussis are used to induce allergic encephalomyelitis in laboratory animals.(22) This is characterized by brain swelling and hemorrhaging similar to that caused by mechanical injuries.(23)

Although Munoz mentioned nothing about the presence or absence of brain edema in his report, Iwasa stressed the swelling of the brain as a complication of the pertussis vaccine.(23)"

The article commonly referenced (Jpn J Med Sci Biol 1985 Apr;38(2):53-65 Swelling of the brain in mice caused by pertussis vaccine...) is a study involving INTRACEREBRAL injection of pertussis vaccination in mice - directly into the brain - to induce inflammation. Anti-vaccination sites that reference this study never point out this important piece of information.


(6) A link to an article which is also misleading:

"In the towns with meningitis clusters, there were almost 50% more prescriptions for antibiotics and nine times more case of the killer disease than in the low-incidence" towns"

The site implies that meningitis clusters and/or meningitis deaths were a *result* of antibiotic use and offers no real evidence other than antibiotics use correlated with higher incidence of meningitis which also correlated with higher number of deaths. To some this would be just common sense - outbreaks of meningitis would necessarily require more antibiotic use and an increase in the number of prescriptions. Areas of outbreak would also have more cases than low-incidence towns -that's why they were called "low-incidence towns". As the incidence of meningitis increases, so will deaths. We would expect several things during a meningitis outbreak: (1) Increased use of antibiotics to treat meningitis; (2) the incidence of meningitis, by definition, is higher than a "low-incidence town"; (3) Deaths are more numerous during an outbreak than in a "low-incidence town".

"It [erythromycin] was being used up to four times more often in the towns with the serious meningitis problem than in the other towns."

Again, common sense - more disease, more antibiotic use.

"the research team has been unable to establish that antibiotics are responsible for the increased incidence of meningitis...Although this finding is a bit odd, we are not saying that people should stop prescribing erythromycin because it causes meningitis. We haven’t been able to come up with anything concrete"

The authors interpreted the results correctly even though the Whale site did not.


(7) A link listing "citations" that seemingly support the association of drugs and aseptic meningitis.

Drug induced aseptic meningitis (DIAM) is a known complication of certain medications such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and ibuprofen, but is a very rare complication mostly seen in patients who are older and immunocompromised (as in systemic lupus erythematosus and HIV infection). My point is not to deny the existence of DIAM, but to illustrate the deception on this particular page of the Whale site.

A large number of citations on this page are letters written to journals and not, in fact, studies conducted by the authors. Some of the citations listed do not seem to have anything to do with aseptic meningitis:

Abstract 1

A study that has nothing to do with aseptic meningitis. Neutropenia and thrombocytopenia are known side effects of this medication and occurs rarely and, more importantly: "Both side effects resolved spontaneously without ill effects."

Abstract 2

Again, has nothing to do with aseptic meningitis. A patient experienced a drop in the platelet count due to a known side effect of the drug. More importantly: "Withdrawal of the drug led to complete recovery".

Abstract 3

Hyperkalemia is an elevated potassium level in the blood. This has no relationship that I am aware of to aseptic meningitis specifically.

Abstract 4

Letter (not study) that seems to refer to the ability of trim-sulfa to penetrate the spinal fluid in order to treat 2 patients who already had meningitis due to a bacteria - not to drugs.

Abstract 5

Another letter - aseptic meningitis is NOT a vasculitis.

In summary of this particular link, of the 140 citations** (see note below):


I have listed additional errors here


I have personally drawn attention to these errors to John, the webmaster of the Whale.to site. To date, few of the errors have been corrected. I have read a lot of information on the Whale site but have only taken the time to look up a small fraction of the citations that are listed. I can only assume that the rest of John's site makes similar errors which most people may not realize.


**John has since removed the repeated links and a few links that obviously had nothing to do with aseptic meningitis and instead of 140 links, there are less than 100 now.

##John has also since changed this reference and removed the statement pertaining to doctors "refusing" the rubella vaccine.


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