It Doesn’t Take A Village To Spread An Infection

Hillary Clinton speaks to members of the traveling press aboard her campaign plane September 15, 2016 in White Plains, New York.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton is back on the campaign trail, but earlier in the week her campaign was raising money from her illness.

Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia, the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, and also a leading news item for the past week, after Clinton collapsed in New York, coinciding with a collapse in her support in the polls.

Physically Hillary is supposed to be recovered, despite the rumors that a secret cabal at the Democratic National Committee is plotting to replace her with Joe Biden or some other presidential contender. Wednesday’s email message from the Hillary campaign to her donors said she is on the mend:

Friend —

I wanted to send you an update on Hillary.

I’m happy to report she’s feeling great, resting, and on her way to 100 percent in order to fight in the final eight weeks ahead.

The outpouring of support over the past few days has meant a lot — to both Hillary and the team here at campaign HQ. It means so much to know that you’ve got her back.

When she’s back on the trail, I want to give Hillary an update that we haven’t missed a beat — that we’re on pace and on budget to hit our goals for September. We’ve set an ambitious goal to hit 2.5 million grassroots donors by the end of the month, and we need 9 donors from your area today to stay on track to hit our end-of-month goal. Chip in right now to get your free sticker and let’s make sure I can give Hillary good news:

Showing that you’ve got Hillary’s back is especially important as we enter these critical weeks. The debates are right around the corner, and we need to start getting in gear to show that we’re the stronger team. What you do today matters — to Hillary and to our team.

Thank you so much for your support,

Dennis Cheng
National Finance Director
Hillary for America

Panels of doctors debate hourly on TV and radio on whether more isn’t involved than just pneumonia (Parkinson’s, lung cancer, a neurological disorder, the results of a stroke), fueled in part by the Clinton campaign’s failure to disclose the diagnosis of pneumonia for several days, followed by sending candidate Hillary out while ill to a 9/11 event – and then having her hug a child outside daughter Chelsea Clinton’s apartment where Mrs. Clinton had been recuperating.  Top Obama campaign consultant David Axelrod accused the Clinton campaign staff of “political malpractice” and diagnosed the campaign’s illness as “not health, it’s stealth.”

There are many types of pneumonia, an inflammation of the air sacs – alveoli – in the lungs, depending on what causes it – bacteria, virus, fungi (often in AIDS patients), medication, autoimmune disorders, etc.

Some 450 million people suffer from pneumonia annually, mainly from the bacterial pneumonia Mrs. Clinton was diagnosed with, but only 4 million of them die from it, about 7 percent of the world’s deaths.  Children under 5, and seniors over 75 are the main victims, and those mainly in the less developed world – almost 10 percent of those infected (43 million) are in India alone.

Mrs. Clinton’s doctor released a statement claiming that Clinton’s pneumonia was simultaneously bacterial but non-contagious and thus not a danger to others, like the little girl Mrs. Clinton, a famous advocate for children whose first job out of law school was for the Children’s Defense Fund, hugged as a photo op only hours after her collapse. A variety of medical professionals have criticized that spin, including callers to today’s Rush Limbaugh show.

Pneumonia was identified by both the ancient Greek ethicist and physician Hippocrates and by the medieval Jewish philosopher-rabbi-doctor Maimonides, but it took until 1875, after the formulation of the germ theory of disease, for the Swiss pathologist Theodore Edwin Klebs to discover that pneumonia was associated with a heavy presence of bacteria in the lungs.

Bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics, analgesics, and fluids, and its prevention can be aided by disinfecting items that could transfer the bacteria.  Both the American Lung Association and the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs list washing your hands as second (after getting a flu vaccine – according to the Center for Disease Control more than 60 percent of Americans like Hillary Clinton who are over 65 do get the vaccinate ) as a way to prevent pneumonia.

(One internet wag:  “It’s too bad Hillary has bacterial pneumonia. She should have used that BleachBit on her doorknobs and kitchen surfaces too.”)

Clinton’s team was widely criticized not just for their lack of transparency, but for choosing to take a 68-year-old woman collapsing, allegedly from pneumonia, to her daughter’s Manhattan condo instead of to an emergency room.  There might have been some perverse wisdom in this.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute  divides pneumonia into three categories – community-acquired,  hospital-acquired, or health service-associated – by where it is contracted. In other words, shockingly, many people contract pneumonia when seeking medical care for other issues.

(My maternal grandmother, if my teen memory is correct, died in the late 1970s from pneumonia contracted in a county hospital in rural Tennessee, where she was being diagnosed and treated for a blood clot.) The CDC estimates that 1 in 25 patients – some 700,000 – are infected while in the hospital, with pneumonia-infections being the most common – 157,000 hospital patients acquiring pneumonia in 2014 while in the hospital.

Thirty eight thousand people die annually from pneumonia in the U.S. while in a hospital, according to the Center for Disease Control, most of them patients over 65.

There is actually a British medical journal just for this issue, The Journal of Hospital Infection. Appropriate, because Britain’s socialist National Health Service doesn’t compare well to the U.S. in terms of hospital-acquired infections.  In a World Health Organization survey of all hospital-acquired infections (not just pneumonia) covering the years 1995-2008, only South Korea has a lower rate of hospital-acquired infection than the U.S., with Canada having a rate almost three times as high, and most European countries with socialized medicine having twice the U.S. rate.

Earlier in the campaign, Mrs. Clinton was criticized for defending Veterans’ Administration hospitals as adequate and as a great examples of government-provided healthcare, in one of her rare TV appearances, on the pro-Hillary MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show, last year.

One 2011 study showed that only 30 percent of older Veterans with pneumonia had received recommended pneumonia vaccinations, despite having government provided VA healthcare benefits.  A Veterans’ Administration report released in 2015 showed that over 300,000  veterans died while waiting for medical care.

When Donald Trump cited this study, Democrat media fact checkers tried to denounce him. Mrs. Clinton continues to defend increased government control of medicine, where the absence of consumer sovereignty leads to increased mortality cause of lax disinfection procedures. The Clintons, with their hundreds of millions in Clinton Foundation donations, will no doubt have access to the remaining private concierge medical centers.