Darkness in El Dorado - Archived Document
Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume
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Internet Source: http://listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0009&L=anthro-l&F=&S=&P=21046

Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 10:39:47 -0700

Reply-To: Ed Hagen <hagen@SSCF.UCSB.EDU

Sender: Anthro-L <Anthro-l@listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu

From: Ed Hagen <hagen@SSCF.UCSB.EDU

Subject: More from Sam Katz on the Neel/Chagnon allegations

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This is an open email from Dr. Samuel Katz, sent to numerous individuals, including the original recipients of the Turner/Sponsel email:

Because I was the co-developer (with John F. Enders, Nobel laureate) of measles vaccine, I have been the recipient over the past 10 days of numerous phone calls and e-mails regarding the Yanomami and Patrick Tierney's accusations (Darkness in El Dorado). I am neither an anthropologist nor a geneticist. I am a pediatrician-vaccinologist who has spent the past 44 years in studies of various vaccines, especially measles.

Among the materials sent me is a memo (undated) from Terry Turner and Leslie Sponsel to Louise Lamphere and Don Brenneis. Their comments regarding Neel's use of measles vaccine are totally incorrect. Edmonston B vaccine which Neel administered at a time when an epidemic of measles was already underway (Amer J Epidemiology, 1970, 91:418-429, Neel et al) was a scientifically established and proven method of attempting to interrupt an outbreak. Nearly 19 million infants and children between 1963 and 1975 in the US and internationally received this licensed (by FDA) vaccine with or without immune globulin. Vaccine virus has never been transmitted to susceptible contacts and cannot cause measles even in intimate contacts. Drs. Turner's and Sponsel's memo indulges in hyperbole as well as errors ("virulent vaccine", "counterindicated by medical experts", "greatly exacerbated and probably started the epidemic of measles", etc.). Who are the unnamed "medical experts" they cite?

Once again, I cannot comment on Neel's style, goals or objectives, but the use of Edmonston B vaccine in an attempt to halt an epidemic was a justifiable, proven and valid approach. In no way could it initiate or exacerbate an epidemic. Continued circulation of these charges is not only unwarranted, but truly egregious.

Yours very truly,

Samuel L. Katz, MD Wilburt C. Davison Professor & Chairman Emeritus Department of Pediatrics