Gardasil may have played a role in two fatal cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to researchers from the ALS Center at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. According to WebMD, the researchers looking into the cases can’t confirm a connection, but are hoping that by raising awareness, they will learn of any other incidents of ALS that have followed Gardasil vaccination.
Gardasil prevents four strains of HPV, two of which cause 70 percent of all cervical cancers. The other two HPV strains are responsible for about 90 percent of genital warts. However, Gardasil has been the subject of controversy ever since it was approved in 2006. As of June 2009, 15 million girls had received Gardasil, with more than 14,000 recipients reporting adverse reactions. The complaints included reports of dizziness numbness, and blood clots. Health regulators are also looking at 43 reports of fatalities that occurred following Gardasil administration.
In June, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the Gardasil label had been updated to include more prominent warnings about fainting that can occur following administration of the vaccine. According to the agency, some Gardasil fainting victims have suffered from tonic-clonic (jerking) movements and seizure-like activity, and some have fallen resulting in traumatic injuries. According to the agency, roughly 13% of Gardasil side effects reported to its Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) describe fainting.
ALS is a rapidly progressive, fatal disease. According to WebMD, the cases documented by the ALS Center involved two young women, ages 17 and 20. The story of one, 17-year-old Jenny Tetlock, has been reported on this blog before. Both young began showing symptoms of ALS just months after receiving a Gardasil shot. In Jenny Tetlock’s case, she had received her third and final vaccine in March 2007. The second victim, a 20-year-old, developed problems within four months of her fist Gardasil injection. According to WebMD, the disease progressed similarly in both young women before it took their lives. Jenny Tetlock died in March 2009, while the other young woman died 28 months after receiving Gardasil.
The ALS Center researchers concede that the development of ALS in both young women so soon after Gardasil vaccination could be a coincidence. But according to WebMD, they are concerned by a couple of factors. For one thing, the disease progressed more quickly than is usual for young ALS patients. Autopsies revealed the spinal cord of both victims was severely inflamed, something the researchers said is not typically seen with ALS. According to WebMD, the researchers believe these factors “all support a temporal association between [the illness] and vaccination.”