Tuesday, August 10, 2010
What if we treated NIH employees the way they are treating us?
A fair number of people who contact BRF are policemen, firemen, and veterans. We hear from a lot of veterans who contracted Blastocystis infection overseas, and can't find a reliable treatment in the United States.
I'm always struck by how little the NIH and CDC are willing to do for these people. Many of them got sent half way around the world to fight in the Middle East. Others are fighting crime and fires at home. These are people who wouldn't think twice about risking their lives for an NIH or CDC employee, yet those organizations won't even move a piece of paperwork to help cure this disease. Because of their inaction, Blastocystis is now the number one protozoal infection in the United States.
The reason for the colossal indecision? In the 1990's, a number of prominent physicians in the United States took public stands on Blastocystis, before there was any real research available. The ones that sided with the "denialist" crowd - the people who insist that it can't cause illness - could have found themselves eating crow a few years later. Once the scientific community figured out what was going on, University research groups sprang up in Asia and then the Middle East and began publishing study after study showing how sick this disease will make patients. Most of these studies were predicted by the work of our own NIH scientist, Dr. Charles Zierdt, who retired in 1995. And there are now close to a dozen new groups in Europe, Mexico, and even the US that are all looking at the same problem.
Unfortunately, Today, being a denialist is as much a part of these people as being a doctor or an American. And they have scared employees at the CDC and NIH into doing nothing. This is why 2010 will make the fifteenth consecutive year that the NIH has rejected every Blastocystis grant proposal sent to it, and the CDC still insists no action can be taken in the disease because "experts disagree." (read the CDC letter for yourself)
So I got to thinking.....if turnabout is fair play, what if firemen and police began treating NIH and CDC employees the way those employees have treated them:
"Hi, I've been in an accident dirivng to my job at the NIH. Can you send an ambulance?"
"Oh, you work for the NIH. Let me transfer you to our special department......" (new operator) "How do you know you've been in an accident."
"Well, a car drove into the back of my car on I5 just south of Seattle."
"You know, tens of thousands of cars drive over that stretch of road every day. The probability that you had an accident there is very small. Are you sure you aren't jumping to conclusions?"
"The back of my car is caved in. I am bleeding from my forehead"
"OK, you have a bleeding disorder. You should see a specialist about this. But I'm just saying the probability of your actually having had an accident is small. Many people bleed without having accidents, and many people have accidents without bleeding. So saying that you are bleeding because you were in a car accident is really jumping to conclusions."
"But why is the back of my care caved in?"
"Well, we really can't verify you car is caved in. Has this been determined by a professional? But even if it is, that doesn't prove you've been in an accident. It's possible your car caved in some other time, and then once the bleeding started, you looked to see if it was caved in, and you noticed it. When was the last time you had a mechanic check to see if your care was caved in?"
"You are an idiot."
"...and bleeding can be caused by many things. There was just a study that found many people get nosebleeds due to stressful life events. This is called a conversion disorder. You sound like you are under stress. Maybe you should see a psychiatrist about the bleeding."
"I am under stress because I'm bleeding from my forward. Would you just send an ambulance?"
"Well, we really can't know if you've been in an accident or not, or what the exact cause of your bleeding is. We can give you the web address of a patient support group for hemophiliacs. You could work with them to raise awareness about your bleeding problem."