Monday, April 6, 2009

In Sickness and Health

Sorry to be away so long, but I have been very sick.

It started with a cough, then the cough got much worse. It was the kind of hacking, lung-splitting cough that doesn't let you sleep. Accompanying the cough was a general malaise, a feeling that there was no energy to do anything -- so nothing got done.

As one of the 47 million Americans without health insurance, I couldn't ask a doctor what was wrong with me. Instead, I turned to the internet for remedies. Since my sickness persisted, it became apparent it wasn't a simple flu or cold, but probably a more serious viral infection.

My research eventually led me to a diagnosis of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

I was infected by my dear wife who works in close proximity of two-legged viral incubators known as pre-schoolers. RSV is common with one to three year olds, but is easily passed to their older caretakers (and the caretakers' spouses.) The sickness lasts about 2 weeks, which is consistent with my sufferings. There is no cure, vaccine or effective treatment (although oxygen and liquids can help alleviate symptoms.)

So, I got sick so what? Why should I blog about this? Well, RSV can lead to pneumonia and death for older people. And RSV is rarely diagnosed by the medical community -- instead passed off as a common cold or flu. I think RSV is a much bigger problem than is acknowledged and since it lasts two weeks is costing a lot of money in lost work days.

In my research, I discovered that RSV has been hanging around much longer this rainy season than in years past. Why is that? What is different now than before?

I stumbled upon MedImmune corporation and found these frightening tidbits:

RSV Vaccine (MEDI-559)

EDI-559 is an intranasal, recombinant, live attenuated, temperature sensitive respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine being developed, in conjunction with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), for the prevention of lower respiratory tract disease in young infants that is caused by RSV.

Motavizumab (treatment)
Motavizumab is an anti-RSV humanized IgG1 MAb that was derived by affinity maturation of palivizumab (Synagis ®) and is 10-20 times more potent than palivizumab at neutralizing RSV in tissue culture. It is being studied for the treatment of active RSV disease. This study evaluates the effect of a single IV dose of motavizumab for the treatment of children hospitalized with RSV illness.

Motavizumab is an anti-RSV humanized IgG1 MAb that was derived by affinity maturation of palivizumab (Synagis ®) and is 10-20 times more potent than palivizumab at neutralizing RSV in tissue culture. A Biologic License Application (BLA) for motavizumab was submitted to the FDA in January 2008 and accepted for filing in March 2008.

MedImmune has the expertise to address target diseases with a wide variety of vaccine technologies

Some of these technologies include:

Live, attenuated vaccine: Uses live but weakened virus to induce immunity, as is done with FluMist® (Influenza Virus Vaccine Live, Intranasal), the only nasal spray influenza vaccine approved in the United States to help prevent seasonal influenza in eligible individuals ages two to 49 years old. It is designed to stimulate an immune response that closely resembles the body’s natural reaction to an infection by using a live, weakened virus.

What all of this means is that MedImmune is currently conducting human trials of their RSV vaccines. They have locations throughout America and in Europe. Their headquaters is in Frederick, Maryland only five miles down the road from Fort Detrick. Yes, Anthrax HQ!

The thing is, I had never heard of RSV until my medical benefits went "poof." As far as I ever knew I had a cold or the flu but nothing like this that lasts for weeks. Obviously, I have been sick for weeks, but always thought it was just a real bad cold. I guess having no one to turn to can be a good thing for your education.

So, the government and big business have been actively seeking a vaccine for RSV and conducting human trials of their latest/greatest product. Consequently, the public has been suffering a prolonged pandemic of a disease practically no one has ever heard of. RSV seems to be some kind of secret! About 600,000 people worldwide die from this unknown disease.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I think the unprecedented length of this year's RSV season is related to the human clinical trials of RSV vaccines by MedImmune and other companies funded by the US government. It wouldn't be the first time the government experimented on the populace without their knowledge.

All I know is I've been sick as hell and I'm sorry I couldn't post my normal tinfoil hat conspiracy theories until now.

Stay tuned for further announcements.

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