The Medicine of Fear
WorldNetDaily gives AAPS-affiliated doctor Elizabeth Lee Vliet plenty of space to fearmonger about disease-ridden immigrants and how Ebola will kill us all.
By Terry Krepel
Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet
In her June 17 WND column, Vliet tried to spread fear about filthy, disease-ridden immigrants:
A flood of illegals has massively surged at our southwestern borders. The economic impact of medical care, education and incarceration for illegals forced on taxpayers is bankrupting Arizona.
If this sort of fearmongering sounds familiar, it should. The AAPS is perhaps best known for publishing a journal article by Madeline Cosman claiming an increase in leprosy cases that she blamed on illegal immigrants. In fact, Cosman falsely inflated the number of cases.
Nevertheless, Vliet continued the fearmongering:
Vaccine-preventable diseases like chicken pox, measles and whooping cough spread like wildfire among unvaccinated children. Other illnesses, along with scabies and head lice, also thrive as children are transported by bus and herded into crowded shelters courtesy of the federal government. Treatment costs are borne by taxpayers.
But the fact that there are large numbers of unvaccinated children has been exacerbated by the AAPS' longtime stance against mandatory vaccination. The AAPS even invited Andrew Wakefield, the doctor whose claim that vaccines cause autism had to be retracted by the medical journal that published it after it was determined to be an "elaborate fraud," to speak at its 2011 annual meeting.
Perhaps Vliet should address the issue of fearmongering about vaccination and its quite tangible consequences before she fearmongers further about disease-ridden immigrants. But she won't, as her June 30 column offered more of the same:
Border Patrol agents have long been at risk for violence from drug cartels and criminals. Just last week Tucson sector agents were fired upon by Mexican aircraft inside the U.S. border. But now there is a new, insidious threat to Border Patrol agents, families and communities from the crush of illegal immigrants at our southern border, which has become a gateway for disease entry.
Ebola? Really? At the time Vliet wrote her column, Ebola is pretty much confined to Africa, so it's extremely unlikely that it could come to the U.S. by the southern border. Further, some of those diseases Vliet listed can be vaccinated against but again, the AAPS for which Vliet served as a director opposes mandatory vaccinations despite their life-saving nature.
Vliet's July 11 WND column picked one particular disease to fearmonger about:
Seventy-five percent of current illegal immigrants are coming from countries in Central America, South America, the Middle East, West Africa, China, India, Pakistan and others far beyond Mexico where multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is common and extremely widespread in children and adults. Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR-TB) is an even more serious form of TB, accounting for about 10 percent of cases in these countries, particularly Central/South America and India. Many illegal border crossers now flooding the U.S. southern border are carrying an invisible, disease-causing co-traveler: the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium.
Or it could be that, unlike Vliet, the Centers for Disease Control doesn't have an agenda to fearmonger about filthy immigrants and can therefore focus on the actual level of the threat. Indeed, a Fox affiliate reports that there is no threat to the general public from immigrants who might be carrying TB, citing an actual health expert in the process:
Dr. Dennis Conrad, professor of pediatrics in the division of Immunology and Infectious Disease at The University of Texas Health Science Center, says TB is generally spread through close, prolonged contact with a patient who is contagious.
If only Vliet cared more about reality than she does about fearmongering. But she doesn't. Thus, in her Aug. 3 WND column, Vliet latched on to the Ebola scare:
Deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever is raging out of control in multiple countries in West Africa. Border Patrol agents confirmed that West Africans have been apprehended coming via Mexico into the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, with a number of seriously ill individuals whisked away to undisclosed locations for treatment of undisclosed illnesses. ABC News reported in mid-July that seriously ill illegals were flown from Texas to Ventura Naval base recently with high fever, respiratory difficulties, and coughing blood. At least three required ICU admission. No information was released on what illness was diagnosed, but the time course, severity of symptoms, and need for immediate ICU treatment is not typical for tuberculosis and more consistent with Ebola or hemorrhagic forms of dengue fever.
But the WND article to which Vliet links as evidence says nothing about seriously ill West Africans crossing the southern border and being "whisked away to undisclosed locations for treatment of undisclosed illnesses." Still, Vliet gets more unhinged and conspiratorial as her column goes on:
Ebola’s use as a weapon of terror and mass destruction has been documented by GlobalSecurity.org, which reports that the former Soviet Union biological weapons program had weaponized the Ebola virus, and that Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese terror group, recently sent members to Africa to harvest the virus during an outbreak.
In fact, the GlobalSecurity.org article she cites are only speculation and unverified reports (emphasis added):
Reports suggested that the Ebola virus was researched and weaponized by the former Soviet Union's biological weapons program Biopreparat. Dr. Ken Alibek, former the First Deputy Director of Biopreparat, speculated that the Russians had aerosolized the Ebola virus for dissemination as a biological weapon. The Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo reportedly sent members to Zaire during an outbreak to harvest the virus.
Given that this article is undated, Vliet has no basis to claim any of these purported incidents happened "recently."
Meanwhile, PolitiFact points out just how remote the possibility of Ebola-infected immigrants from West Africa being smuggled across the southern border is, citing actual experts in doing so:
"The incubation period is two to 21 days, so theoretically, an African could fly from an infected area, land in a Mexican airport, take a bus toward the border, hire a coyote to take him across and then ‘present’ with Ebola," said Thomas Fekete, section chief for infectious diseases at the Temple University School of Medicine. "But this presupposes a suicidal person who also has the resources for this kind of travel."
By spreading lies and conspiracy theories, Vliet is acting in an irresponsible manner with her Ebola fearmongering.
What's a fact-averse doctor to do when the CDC refuses to cooperate with Vliet's fearmongering tactics? Find a country whose health warnings about Ebola are somewhat closer to her own.
Thus, an Aug. 8 WND article by Leo Hohmann quoted Vliet bashing the CDC for not fearmongering and praising Canadian health officials for more closely aligning to her agenda:
[Vliet] also pointed to a 2012 Canadian study in which healthy and infected monkeys were housed side by side in cages but had no physical contact. The healthy monkeys contracted Ebola.
Actually, Vliet is very much trying to create a panic. Why else would she disdain medical advice from her home country and embrace foreigners who at least somewhat echo her panic manufacturing?
Hohmann also quoted Dr. Jane Orient doing more fearmongering, but he failed to identify that Orient is the executive director of AAPS. But then, WND is a place where AAPS' out-of-the-mainstream views and desire to instill fear in patients is not news -- and where Vliet is considered a credible source.