2 ALS Cases May Be Linked to Gardasil Vaccine
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Rapidly Progressive Course
In addition to the short time span between vaccination and the onset of
symptoms, several other factors made the researchers suspect a link to Gardasil
vaccination, Lomen-Hoerth says.
In both young women, the disease progressed more quickly than typical for
young ALS patients, she says.
Additionally, at autopsy, “we were surprised that the spinal cord was so
inflammatory. That is very different from what we normally see in ALS,” she
The pathology features “all support a temporal association between [the
illness] and vaccination,” Lomen-Hoerth says.
She spoke at the annual meeting of the American Neurological
Because it is extremely rare, affecting just one in 2-3 million young
people, there are very few studies of juvenile ALS, Lomen-Hoerth says.
Her team plans further study comparing the symptoms and pathological
features of young adults with ALS who got the Gardasil vaccine to those who
didn’t get the shots. “If the features are identical, then we’ll know [the
vaccine] is not the cause,” Lomen-Hoerth says.
In the meantime, she and colleagues have met with scientists from the FDA
and CDC to scour their adverse-event database, called the Vaccine Adverse Event
Reporting System (VAERS), for any other reports linking ALS to Gardasil or
other vaccinations. “So far, we haven’t found any,” she says.
Merck is also continuing to work with the CDC and FDA to monitor any adverse
events that may have been caused by the vaccine, according to Eisele.
Yadollah Harati, MD, a neurologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston,
says the findings raise a red flag.
The fact that “the postmortem studies show distinct immunological features
different from what is typical of ALS” suggest an association between
vaccination and ALS, he says.
“I will be asking any of my young patients with ALS whether they received
the Gardasil vaccine,” he tells WebMD. “I have one 20-year old ALS patient, and
we didn’t think to ask that.”