Monday, November 17, 2008

David Kirby...your mission...if you decide to accept it...

Mr. Kirby has wirtten an article on the Huffington Post, a suppository of anti-vaccination fear mongering, that he references on the AoA blog. It concers autism among Somali children in Minnesota.

His "...reporter's instinct told ...[him] it could be a very big story...". It may well be. Now that he has identified such a story, he must take his investigative journalist skills and head off to Somalia to see if he can "...demonstrate[d] that US-born children of Somali refugees are more prone to autism than the other kids of ... Somalia...".

This should not be too difficult for an investigative reporter of Mr. Kirby's skills. If it is, then he can always call on his henchman, Dany Olmsted, ace investigative reporter who could not find the Clinic For Special Children in Amsih Country, along with him.

And, Mr. Kirby is right. If Somali children have the same incidence of autism in Somalia as they do here, it will mean that there is nothing out of the ordinary for them in the US.

Let's make sure that Mr. Kirby is properly equipped for such a journey, a quest for knowledge. First, he needs a packet of pencils to enter data in his Ace Reporter notebook. (Pencils are recommended, to allow for ewasy adjusting or data if the facts do not fit.) OK, that's it for his reporter's equipment.

Next, and possibly more important, he'll need some personal protection. No, I do not mean underarm deodorant. I mean vaccinations. Here is what the CDC recommends:

Vaccination or Disease
Recommendations or Requirements for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.

Yellow Fever
CDC yellow fever vaccination recommendation for travelers to Somalia: For all travelers >9 months of age Somalia requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10 year intervals if there is on-going risk.

Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)
Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with "standard" tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.

Hepatitis B
Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).

Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in East Africa, especially if visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas and staying with friends or relatives where exposure might occur through food or water.

Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites. Note: Rabies vaccine is temporarily in limited supply. For updates on the rabies vaccine supply, please check the Rabies News and Highlights page regularly.

Recommended for adult travelers who have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV). They should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.

Mr. Kirby should not forget:

Drugs to Prevent Malaria (antimalarial drugs)
If you will be visiting a malaria risk area in Somalia, you will need to take one of the following antimalarial drugs: atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine (primaquine in special circumstances and only after G6PD testing).
Note: Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in Somalia and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.Malaria risk area in Somalia: All

Now, David, I have had malaria. The first time was when I was 20. It was miserable. I was miserable. I also had a relapse when I was 50. Don't forget to take your pills. You will thank me later.

Just remember, Somalia is a war zone. It is NOT a healthy environment. The US State Department cautions about venturing there.

David, Bon Voyage!

One further comment. What Kirby, et al, are doing with the poor people of Somalia, i.e. using them to further their agenda, disgusts me. The people of Somalia are living in some of the poorest conditions in the world. They are being subjected to war, war where people die, where people are psychologically damaged with PTSD, depression, etc. They are uprooted and forced to leave their homes to protect their families. It is well known that children of the victims of war, e.g. survivors of the Holocaust, develop psychological problems.


  1. So is David Kirby planning to go to Somalia to not see autism? Is he going to pull an "Olmsted"? After all, Kirby has already said that autism is "unknown" in Kenya, which no doubt will come as a shock to the Autism Society of Kenya.

    Given that sort of penetrating investigative journalism, I imagine that Kirby would fail to find water if he were dropped in the middle of the Pacific.

    I eagerly await another fact-free report from Kirby.


  2. My guess is that poor Mr Kirby is already vaccinated for some of those ailments (damn his parents). With any luck he will catch something he could have been vaccinated against and repent. My irony meter is just quivering with delight at the possibility.

    I suggest a law be passed requiring parents of all un-vaccinated children to cover the costs associated with the diseases they allow to return and spread with their foolishness. Stupidity should have a price after all.

  3. He has probably been vaccinated against polio. However, the others are often for specific circumstances. One would not need a Yellow Fever vaccination if his investigation is limited to Brooklyn.

  4. I'm sure Mr. Kirby will find Somalia's extensive reporting and record-keeping system quite helpful in confirming his conclusion.

  5. Welcome aboard, Jane. Good point. However, he still has to get there first. The early moring newscarried a story about some sailors aboard a supertanker off the coast of Somalia that invited the crew and the million or so gallons of oil, to hang out with them for a while. I am sure that David will get an equally warm welcome.

    BTW, will host the bake sale to raise funds for his "country egress fee"?

  6. BTW, this site lists 5 autism organizations in Kenya, which seems to be above average, especially for a third-world country.

  7. Y'all are mean, just mean. With all the other problems Somalia has, why would you wish David Kirby on them?

  8. I think you may be underestimating Mr. Kirby, who has indeed earned his chops as a war correspondent. Here is a portion of his bio on the Huffpost:

    David Kirby ( has been a professional journalist for over 15 years, and has written extensively for The New York Times for the past eight years. Kirby was a contracted writer with the weekly City Section at The Times, where he covered public health, local politics, art and culture, among other subjects. Kirby has also written for a number of national magazines. He was also a foreign correspondent in Mexico and Central America from 1986-1990, where he covered the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and covered politics, corruption and natural disasters in Mexico. From Latin America, he reported for UPI, the San Francisco Examiner, Newsday, The Arizona Republic, Houston Chronicle and the NBC Radio Network.

    Lisa Rudy (

  9. So what?

    I do not doubt that he was a reporter in Latin America. Do you think that qualifies him for the rigors of Somalia? Are you comparing the present situation with Somalia with the problems that existed in Latin America twenty years ago? If you are, I suggest you do some remedial reading (each of those countries have had a real police force and military --- though in some cases the military were the problem! --- just a note, I have lived and/or traveled in each of the countries listed).

    Then why did he quit that life of glamour to write fluffy travel stories and community bulletins as a freelance writer for the New York Times? Not really a contract writer, but a free lance writer, as noted on all of the articles authored by him on the paper's website.

    Doing a bit of searching, it seems he was last published in the New York Times about four years ago (do not confuse him with the English professor at Florida university). The articles were mostly on travel and one in the auto section on those who watch pornography in their cars:

    Not exactly the background for a medical/science journalist.

    Especially with the large gaps of logic in his writings since 2004. To find examples just pick up Dr. Paul Offit's latest book, check its index for "Kirby, David" and read on (the Chinese smoke plumes are just the beginning).