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Bubba

Mar 30, 2007, 9:08 AM

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On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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We have lived in Mexico for about six years and, over those years we have come down with a few ailments from salmonella and typhoid to amoebas and brucellosis. Now we are moving from Lake Chapala, which is bad enough, to Chiapas which is notorious for food related illnesses. These illnesses have occurred even though we use normal precautions in preparing that which we plan to ingest at home. Restaurants are another matter. Eating in restaurants in Mexico is an act of blind faith, especially if one eats raw food or salsas. We, as most, eat out anyway and, thus, expose ourselves to the care of others whose hygienic practices are unknown to us.

I was in the doctor´s office at Lake Chapala a few months ago being diagnosed with typhoid - a most unpleasant and potentially dangerous disease - and he took a call from a patient who had contracted hepatites "A" or"B", I don´t remember which and was deathly ill. She had suffered serious liver damage and, according to the conversation I overheard, was in for months of severe illness.

I started thinking that perhaps I should bite the bullet and go ahead and get typhoid and hepatites innoculations and will consult with a doctor about that but, before I go to the doctor, I am curious to hear from some of the rest of you who have consulted with physicians regarding the efficacy of these medications and any downside risks or actual negative events you may have experienced from these innoculations. I say this because, in France, where we have relatives, some of these innoculations are frowned upon as not worth the risks of certain side effects. My experience with doctors around here is that there can be a tendency to over medicate with antibiotics and other preventive medications without careful consideration as to negative consequences.

Sometime a little folk wisdom from those traveling the same road is useful.



Don


Mar 30, 2007, 10:07 AM

Post #2 of 34 (5177 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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I strongly recommend Hep A & B shots. I had the shots, a series of three, twice in the U.S. and once in Mexico. You can get those shots free at IMSS along with flu and pnemonia shots. I had no side effects.


(This post was edited by Don on Mar 30, 2007, 11:26 AM)


Papirex


Mar 30, 2007, 11:01 AM

Post #3 of 34 (5169 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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I had a series of immunization shots for hepatitis at the Alaska Native Health Service Hospital in Anchorage about 20 years ago. I am not an Alaska Native (Indian, Aleut, Eskimo), but I am eligible for Indian Health service care.

There are no IHS hospitals or clinics in Alaska, so the ANHS treats any Indian tribal members from other states up there, at no cost to the patient. In over 30 years of living in Alaska, I never had to pay a Dime to a doctor or dentist for myself. It is my ace in the hole in case of any serious medical problems I may have in the future.

Hepatitis is endemic in rural areas of Alaska, so a program was initiated about 20 years ago to immunize all Natives in Alaska, is was one of the very few programs that included all family members such as my Mexican wife, and not just the person eligible for INHS care.

First, a blood test was done. If you have ever had hepatitis, you will have the anti-bodies in your blood, and you will have natural immunity for hepatitis. After the results of the blood analysis was known, I was given a series of three shots over a period of time. I don’t remember if the shots were 30 or 90 days apart. Another blood test was done after the series of shots to determine that I did have immunity for hepatitis.

I was informed that after receiving the series of shots, that I had lifetime immunity from Hepatitis A & B. There is a small research lab for the Federal Center for Disease Control located at the INHS hospital in Anchorage, and I tend to believe them.

There were no side effects. It was just as much fun as getting any shot is.

Rex






"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


pat

Mar 30, 2007, 2:31 PM

Post #4 of 34 (5128 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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In my previous life, I spent many years traveling around the world, often to third-world countries. I always had the recommended inoculations and have never had any bad side effects. If I were in your position, I would take the inoculations in a heartbeat. Hepatitis is a particularly nasty disease.

As a matter of fact, when my wife and I visited Ajijic a couple of years ago, our physician recommended we take the hepatitis shots before we left. We didn’t hesitate.

Pat


wendy devlin

Mar 30, 2007, 2:59 PM

Post #5 of 34 (5120 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Since you say that you and your wife have come down with a few ailments from salmonella and typhoid to amoebas and brucellosis already during your six years in Mexico, then it seems that you could be at risk to contact Hep A or B.

Had a case of Hepatitus once, that turned my skin and eyes yellow and rendered me weaker than a sick kitten for about a week.

Not fun. Some eighteen months later as an RN, got to play Florence Nightingale in a rural U.S. community where some 120 people came down in a short period of time with hepatitus.

Now had immunity to the disease itself. However it was quite an experience, to be involved nursing that many sick people at once. Also it was necessary to educate every other man, woman and child in the community to prevent the disease from spreading even further. Some patients bounced back within a week of being very sick, for others their symptoms, lingered. And of course, there is chance that the disease can cause serious liver damage.

This particular rural community was suddenly without a nurse mid-wife, a dentist and sufficient parents to care for children.

So pitch-hit in those capacities as well, until the brunt of the epidemic was over and under control. Busiest six weeks of my life:)

Also contracted salmonella...ta! dah!

In San Cristobol de Las Casas fifteen years later.

However those have been my two(knock on wooden head) experiences with 'disease' other than common food poisoning.

Although arbon and I have yet to take any 'preventative' shots for travel or at home, the day may come, when we do.

Risk assessment... again:)


(This post was edited by wendy devlin on Mar 30, 2007, 3:22 PM)


Waterlily

Mar 30, 2007, 8:32 PM

Post #6 of 34 (5074 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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We both had Hep A & B vaccinations prior to moving down. We also updated our tetnus vacines. I am currently being treated for Hep C that I contracted in the states following cancer surgery. Hep C in Mexico is a different strain than in the US. The Hep C genotype in Mexico isn't treatable. The side effects for Hep C chemo therapy are really unpleasant. Several days a week I'm house-bound. The rest of the week I'm tired, headachy and nauseous, but better than a liver transplant.


hopalog


Mar 30, 2007, 9:06 PM

Post #7 of 34 (5063 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Hep A (don't know about B) takes 6 weeks to fully innoculate against. Typhoid has two different vaccinations. One is 90something percent effective; the other 67 percent. Jamie and I have both had typhoid once and he recently contracted salmonella (which is just yet another flavor of typhoid, I think) from PURPOSELY eating raw meat. Each and every one of you now has a personal obligation to BOP him on the haid should you ever lay eyes on him.

I would definitely go with the Hep A. The kids are in the process of it after having never received a vaccination in their short little lives (very informed and purposeful decision on my part). I'm not so sure about typhoid. I'm not convinced that the long term effects from vaccinations would be worth it for our family. Each family is different.

Hell's Half Acre

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Don


Mar 30, 2007, 9:11 PM

Post #8 of 34 (5063 views)

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Re: [Waterlily] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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"The side effects for Hep C chemo therapy are really unpleasant. Several days a week I'm house-bound. The rest of the week I'm tired, headachy and nauseous, but better than a liver transplant."

I have to disagree with your statement. I had a liver transplant last year. It had nothing to do with hepatitus. As a matter of fact, they don't know why my liver failed. 12 days after the transplant I was released from the hospital. With the exception of having to take immune suppression drugs daily, I have resumed my normal life. I have no pain or discomfort.




Jerry@Ajijic

Mar 30, 2007, 9:38 PM

Post #9 of 34 (5055 views)

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Re: [Don] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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When we worked at Disney World they made shots for Hep A or B available for all of their employees at no cost. We got ours and never heard any complaints or felt any problems ourselves.


caldwelld


Mar 31, 2007, 8:01 AM

Post #10 of 34 (5018 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Very surprised to hear you don't have Hep A or B or Typhoid shots. If one travels in rural areas (particularly tropical areas) in developing countries you need these.
dondon


Bubba

Mar 31, 2007, 8:48 AM

Post #11 of 34 (5007 views)

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Re: [caldwelld] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Very surprised to hear you don't have Hep A or B or Typhoid shots. If one travels in rural areas (particularly tropical areas) in developing countries you need these.
dondon


Well, DonDon:

When I was in my 20s, I traveled extensively in Africa and India without hepatitis or typhoid innoculations and never got sick. That made me cocky and foolishly complacent. I read threads all the time, especially on a particular Chapala oriented forum, where people brag about how they eat unpasteurized dairy products at the tiaguis, never disinfect vegetables and eat at (unsanitary) street stands and never get sick. This is a geezer version of adolescent "look at me" games meant to establish the physical superiority of the braggart over lesser souls and, at least in high school, had the end goal of getting in Mary Lou´s pants. On Geezer forums, the goal is more nebulous.

After bouts with several very unpleasant digestive illnesses, I have learned my lesson. I am no longer in my 20s and the ramifications of being careless in what I eat can be serious indeed at 65. I´ll be getting these innoculations as soon as is practical. I have also become far more cognizant of where and what I eat.

Thank you all for your insights.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Mar 31, 2007, 8:50 AM)


drmike

Mar 31, 2007, 1:34 PM

Post #12 of 34 (4967 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Hello, all,
I am a naturopathic physician who specializes in hepatitis and other liver diseases. I have treated hepatitis patients for about 10 years. The question concerning the hepatitis vaccine is a complicated one and should be researched and thought through before deciding.

As a medical student everyone is offered the opportunity for the hepatitis vaccine since most of us would be treating hepatitis patients. In my class (50 students or so) we all researched the vaccine and to a person turned down the vaccine. We were each willing to "chance" the disease rather than risk the vaccine. Some studies show vaccines actually weaken the immune system, rather than strengthen it-thus making you more vulnerable to disease. Other studies show long term negative effects such as the "Polio-syndrome" that some people in the 1950's who received the polio vaccine are now exhibiting. With the hepatitis vaccine too little is known about this for me to be comfortable with it.

Let's look at hepatitis. The first type is Hepatitis A. This is usually a self-limiting liver disease usually from fecal contaminate foods (from the great unwashed handling our food). Most people who get this are sick for a few weeks and then completely recover without any lasting effects.

Hepatitis B is usually from sexual fluids, or blood. It can be transmitted through sexual contact or needle sticks or blood that gets into cuts, etc. This is a serious disease that the vaccine is supposed to prevent. This type can be cleared from the body or may go into a chronic state and cause long term problems. Some people recover quite nicely from Hep B but become carriers and can pass the disease on. High risk behavior is sex with someone affected or a carrier, blood transfusions, IV drug use, tattoos/piercings, surgery, etc.

Hepatitis C is an emerging epidemic. Most of my hepatitis patients fall into this category. Often has a dormancy period of 20+ years. Can be spread through blood transfusions, tattoos,/piercings, IV drug use, surgery, etc. Sexual contact is a minimal way for contracting this (maybe 1 - 2 %). There is no vaccine for this.

There are other hepatitis's out there Hep D (in junction with Hep B), Hep E, F and maybe G. These are not an issue at this point.

As can be seen, except for Hepatitis A, the others have some risk factor in order to develop these diseases. Due to the nature of the epidemiology of the diseases, my personal feeling is the vaccine is worse than the benefit of prevention, since I do not belong to any of the "risk groups". Remember Hepatitis A, although not pleasant, is usually self limiting with no long lasting damage. Also, the liver is remarkable in its ablility to regenerate damaged cells and recover. By keeping the immune system strong and utilizing proper care of the liver with proper supplements I feel the vaccine is unnecessary.

Of course, everyone must do what they feel is right for them, and if you feel the vaccine is what you need, then I suggest doing some research (google: hepatitis vaccines) and then decide what is the right course for you.

Thanks.
Dr. Mike

http://www.smarthealthchoices.blogspot.com

There are hundreds of paths up the mountain,
all leading in the same direction,
so it doesn't matter which path you take.
The only one wasting time is the one
who runs around and around the mountain,
telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.


Hindu teaching



(This post was edited by drmike on Mar 31, 2007, 2:13 PM)


Bubba

Mar 31, 2007, 1:56 PM

Post #13 of 34 (4959 views)

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Re: [drmike] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Thank you Dr. Mike. Great information. Your post is precisely the type of information I sought.

The thing that had me so concerned was that in my wife´s native France, Hep A&B innoculations used to be universal and they stopped it cold. My wife´s cousin in La Rochelle recently told us she requested the hepatitis vacination from her doctor and was flat turned down and told she didn´t need it. It seems the French medical community is discouraging this treatment now indicating that the preventive measures may be worse than the disease.

I, for one, will opt out based on your post.

Any opinion on the typhoid innoculation?


drmike

Mar 31, 2007, 2:50 PM

Post #14 of 34 (4939 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Thank you Bubba,

You are correct that in Europe, the medical establishment seems to be more cautious about medicines and vaccines than we are here in the USA. I've studied in Paris twice, with Dr. Jacques Le Coz,M.D., and the French approach to medicine is where I am most comfortable.

Of course we are at the mercy of the Pharmaceutical Mega-Corporations that advertise on television during the evening telling people to "ask your doctor if med A is right for you". Some people feel there is a drug or vaccine for everything but that is erroneous "non-thinking". Can you believe our govt. is requiring babies-BABIES for Gods sake- to get Hepatitis B vaccines? I don't know, but I would not hesitate to guess that babies are not in any of the risk groups that I mentioned in the earlier post. Yet they will have their immune system attacked by getting this vaccine...by law! Amazing!

Typhoid vaccine. May protect against the fecal spread of typhoid fever. Typhoid is spread similarly to Hepatitis A...improperly sanitized hands, unwashed fruits & vegetable and unclean water contaminated with feces. The vaccine has about a 60 - 70% effectiveness, which means a 30 - 40% in-effectiveness with some possible severe side effects including abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, shock, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases (lupus, Sjogrens dz., rheumatoid arthritis, etc), and kidney problems. Again it is a value vs risk situation. If you are in a high risk area (I do not know that Chiapas is-but I would suspect it is) you may consider the vaccine to cut your risk down by a bit more than half.

Or you can keep your immune system strong, be careful where you eat and what you eat, if you become ill take colloidal silver or a homeopathic remedy (i.e. Baptisia 30 C) and you'll probably be fine. I for one would not take the vaccine, but again everyone must decide for themselves.

Hope that helps.
Dr. Mike

http://www.smarthealthchoices.blogspot.com

There are hundreds of paths up the mountain,
all leading in the same direction,
so it doesn't matter which path you take.
The only one wasting time is the one
who runs around and around the mountain,
telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.


Hindu teaching



(This post was edited by drmike on Mar 31, 2007, 6:14 PM)


hopalog


Mar 31, 2007, 5:03 PM

Post #15 of 34 (4919 views)

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Re: [drmike] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Thank you SO MUCH for your post, Dr. Mike. None of my kids (12, 10, 7, 5) have had any vaccinations and I'm very seriously considering Hep A. Since they've never been vaccinated, they obviously don't have HepB either, but I'm more concerned with HepA since we do "eat off the streets". I have my own Astralgas root tincture and we do a lot of raw garlic at the first sign of any imbalance, but I'm very interested in your post and I'll be researching again. I'd already decided not to do a typhoid vaccine so that has never been a question.

Hell's Half Acre

Flickrlicious


lmaxine

Mar 31, 2007, 5:20 PM

Post #16 of 34 (4914 views)

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Re: [drmike] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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I had typhoid and brucellosis a few years ago, and my homeopathic MD treated me with a homeopathic remedy.
"He upon whose heart the dust of Mexico has lain will find no peace in any other land." Malcolm Lowry


sciman

Mar 31, 2007, 7:57 PM

Post #17 of 34 (4886 views)

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Re: [drmike] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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"By keeping the immune system strong and utilizing proper care of the liver with proper supplements I feel the vaccine is unnecessary. "

Mike: Thanks so much for your careful delineation of the issues. I would really like to hear more about your approaches to prevention and immune strength. Obviously there are situations to avoid.. but I'd like to know more about supplements and other habits one might explore.


Moisheh

Mar 31, 2007, 8:14 PM

Post #18 of 34 (4878 views)

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Re: [sciman] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Yesterday I attended a memorial for a gentleman in our community ( Kino). He ate in a puesto where no one in their right mind should eat. Result was Hep A. He had other health problems such as Diabetes. In less than a month he died. We will both be getting Hep A shots. Before I would take advice from a Homeopath a quick google for USA and Canadian Health Services recommendations would be more appropriate.
Moisheh


Don


Mar 31, 2007, 10:23 PM

Post #19 of 34 (4851 views)

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Re: [Moisheh] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Here is a website to check.

http://www.vaccineinformation.org/hepa/qandavax.asp


Georgia


Apr 1, 2007, 7:28 AM

Post #20 of 34 (4821 views)

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Re: [drmike] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Well, having had an 18 year old daughter die of Hepatitis A, I tend to disagree. For me, preventive medicine includes: hepatitis, typhoid, pneumonia, flu and tetanus vaccines, disinfecting all vegetables and fruits, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, getting sufficient sleep, regular dental visits, limiting my use of alcohol, not smoking, washing my hands before I eat and while preparing foods when I handle meat, poultry or fish before I touch anything else, using separate cutting boards, refrigerating items promptly.... in other words, everything your mother told you and you never really believed. Aside from my mother's advice I would add: laughter, play and kindness as healthy practices.

I had my last cold in 1994 and try to stay healthy as an act of kindness to my husband, who will tell you that I am not a very nice patient. Actually, I suspect most hospitals would refuse me admission on the basis of my disposition when I am not feeling well.


(This post was edited by Georgia on Apr 1, 2007, 7:29 AM)


drmike

Apr 1, 2007, 9:08 AM

Post #21 of 34 (4802 views)

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Re: [Georgia] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Thanks to all who have responded. It is good to have a discussion on a question that many must face. First to those who have lost a daughter or friend to Hepatitis, I'm sorry for your loss. Hepatitis is not a nice disease and can lead to fatalities, depending on many circumstances. To Moisheh, as a clarification, I am not a Homeopathic doctor. I am a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor (N.M.D.) who uses many different modalities for healing including homeopathy, surgery, prescription drugs (when necessary), acupunture and Chinese medicine, mesotherapy, IV therapy, nutrition and supplements. I am licensed (and trained) to do anything that a M.D. can do, only more.

Since several people have listed websites to visit, one you might also want to consider is: www.909shot.com. This is the National Vaccine Information Center which has many different articles on vaccinations to help you reach a decision.

Again as I stated in both of my posts, it is up to each individual to determine what is right for them. Do your own research. I only encourage people to be open minded.

I taught epidemiology and research in Medical School (amongst other courses). One thing I was adamant to my medical students was- when reading studies and research, find out who funded the study. Be very careful of studies funded by the Pharmaceutical Companies and Schools with ties to Pharmaceutical Companies. Keep your eyes and mind open.

For some, vaccinations are the way to go. If you feel it is right for you, go for it. I have never counseled any of my patients not to get vaccinations. I only provided them with the information-pro and con- to let them make an informed choice.

For me, vaccinations are not worth the risks based upon my research and experience, thus I do not get them.
Dr. Mike

http://www.smarthealthchoices.blogspot.com

There are hundreds of paths up the mountain,
all leading in the same direction,
so it doesn't matter which path you take.
The only one wasting time is the one
who runs around and around the mountain,
telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.


Hindu teaching



(This post was edited by drmike on Apr 1, 2007, 9:19 AM)


morgaine7


Apr 1, 2007, 12:24 PM

Post #22 of 34 (4766 views)

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Re: [drmike] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Many thanks to all of you for your thoughts and references. Dr. Mike, I appreciate and admire the balance in your posts. When I first moved abroad ('70s) I never had vaccinations other than tetanus, despite living in rural areas. In the early '80s I traveled to the Ivory Coast, where yellow fever vaccine was required to enter the country (as in most of sub-Saharan Africa), so I took it. Only then was I advised that I should have been vaccinated all those years against cholera, typhoid, polio, and hepatitis ... in the form of gamma globulin, remember that?

In '87 I got cholera here in Egypt about three weeks after a cholera booster. At the time I was told by my doctors (here and in the US) that the vaccine was generally ineffective, and I believe it was discontinued a few years later. In 1998 at age 50 I caught typhoid (type H), also despite having been vaccinated. I mostly gave up on vaccines and have taken none since apart from yellow fever and tetanus when indicated.

Neither cholera nor typhoid is a picnic, I assure you. In both cases I think I saved myself essentially by knowing how to combat dehydration. But I've mostly cast my lot in favor of natural over artificial immunities.

Kate


lmaxine

Apr 1, 2007, 1:35 PM

Post #23 of 34 (4748 views)

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Re: [Moisheh] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Homeopathic Medical Doctors are licensed MEDICAL DOCTORS, who use homeopathy as their main course of treatment instead of allopathic drugs which have "side effects" which are really the unwanted effects and usually just alleviate your symptoms and don't cause real healing. Many people confuse homeopathy with other modes of healing such as herbal remedies, but it is a totally different system. Homeopathy works to strengthen your immune system, so the body begins to heal itself, instead of suppressing the symptoms.
"He upon whose heart the dust of Mexico has lain will find no peace in any other land." Malcolm Lowry


sfmacaws


Apr 1, 2007, 11:20 PM

Post #24 of 34 (4682 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Hep A is not just a mild disease like the flu even though it is the mildest of the hepatitis diseases. Perhaps if you have a young, healthy liver it will be a minimal problem with no lasting effects, but if you don't it can be deadly. Even if you do, if it is in conjunction with a hereditary liver problem or another disease, it will kill you. Bubba, I'm not one to cast stones in this area but really, how healthy do you think your liver is at 65yo after a long and colorful life?

All police and fire are given free immunization to both Hep A and Hep B, no side effects I've ever heard of. On the other hand, getting exposed to Hep B is quite deadly to older and more liver-challenged people - like most cops. The interferon treatment is extremely toxic and is the only thing available for treatment of Hep B. It is generally not advised for anyone over 40yo because it is so hard on your liver.

If you look at your personal risks and the possible outcome of getting either disease, I think you should get the shots Bubba.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




bfwpdx

Apr 2, 2007, 7:11 AM

Post #25 of 34 (4662 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico

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Most of the side effects of the vaccine seem to be "long term" effects like those resulting from the polio vaccine. At the age we mostly are, shouldn't we factor that into our thinking? I don't think I have to worry about "long term effects" personally....
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