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New Vaccine Could Prevent Cervical Cancer; Study Shows Young Children Should Receive Flu Vaccine; Bush Delivers Speech on Terrorism

Aired October 6, 2005 - 12:30   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's take a look at what's happening "Now in the News."
If you were are watching during the 10:00 a.m. Eastern hour, You saw President Bush live here on CNN, delivered what the White House billed as a major speech on the war on terrorism. He portrayed Iraq as the primary battleground in the war on terror. It's an argument the administration has been making for a while.

NATO chief diplomat met Afghan president Hamid Karzai today after -- over plans to boost the alliance's in Afghanistan. NATO plans to add several thousand more troops and expand into southern Afghanistan. That is where Taliban holdouts are the most active. The U.S. has been pressing its European allies to take a greater role in the war on terror.

CIA Director Porter Goss says that agency employees will not be singled out for punishment over 9/11 failures. Goss said such a move would send the wrong signal to CIA officers about taking risks. But Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says he is concerned about the lack of accountability.

Some slightly encouraging news at the pump today. AAA saying gasoline prices are down three cents -- 3/10, sorry -- 3/10 of one cent, to $2.93 a gallon for self-serve unleaded. A month ago, self- serve unleaded averaged more than $3 gallon.

Let's talk about a possible medical breakthrough. The story might just qualify. It involves cervical cancer, which kills about 4,000 women in the U.S. each year.

Our senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on a new vaccine that could prevent up to 70 percent of those deaths.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A few years ago, Rose Dennis, a 53-year-old healthy woman, went in for a routine pap smear, one of the most common procedures done in the world. As she felt fine, she really thought nothing of it until she got a life-altering call from her doctor. She had cervical cancer.

ROSE DENNIS, CERVICAL CANCER SURVIVOR: During that time, it was -- I don't want to really remember it. It was just horrible. GUPTA: Dennis is one of thousands of women in this country to suffer from cervical cancer, which is actually called by a virus called human papilloma virus, or HPV. It is often transmitted sexually.

Now, this cancer is curable if treated early. But now there may be a way to prevent the disease from ever occurring in the first place, a vaccine.

It wasn't easy to develop such a vaccine, as there are more than 70 different types of HPV. But researchers honed in on two of them, number 16 and 18, because those are the most dangerous types.

DR. KEVIN AULT, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: In this particular vaccine there are four types of human papilloma virus that are covered. They're probably the four most common types. Sixteen and 18 are responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancers.

GUPTA: Best news of all, the vaccine prevented 100 percent of those two strains.

AULT: We don't think of most vaccines as being 100 percent effective, so I think that's good news overall, and certainly a pleasant surprise to those of us who have been doing this research for a number of years.

GUPTA: The vaccine is called Gardasil, and Merck and Company Inc., the manufacturer, says it plans to apply for a license before the end of the year. Now, if approved, this vaccine may become extremely common, recommended to all women in their teenage years before they become sexually active.

Rose Dennis had no such option. She had to endure a hysterectomy, chemotherapy and radiation to become cancer free. For her, and possibly thousands of others, a vaccine would make all the difference.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


KAGAN: And then there's this in health news now. A new plan for the U.S., planning to fight the avian flu. President Bush is set to meet members of the pharmaceutical industry tomorrow. The Bush administration wants the industry to work on a vaccine to head off a possible bird flu pandemic. The State Department is hosting an international conference on avian flu today and tomorrow. More than 65 countries and international organizations have representatives at that meeting.

So as flu season gets closer, a new study is urging a change in the U.S. immunization policy for children. Now, follow this if you are a parent. The study from Boston Children's Hospital recommends that kids ages three to four years old receive flu vaccines. Under the current guidelines, current CDC guidelines, vaccinations are suggested only for babies six to 23 months. Here now with more on the Boston report are the study's authors, John Brownstein and Dr. Kenneth Mandl, the hospital's attending physician in emergency medicine. Gentleman, thanks for being here with us.



KAGAN: Now here's the thing I'm trying to understand. When we're talking about vaccinating these children, it's not necessarily for the children's sake, it's for the population's sake to keep the flu from spreading.

MANDL: Exactly. So the study that we've completed and was accomplished this month suggests that there might be other approaches to vaccinating the population to prevent illness from the flu than the approaches that we currently take.

KAGAN: So, basically, your studies finding that 3 and 4-year- olds are little germ factories, which anybody who's been around little kids, knows that.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, so, right. What we found is that actually 3 and 4-year-olds tend to be the first ones to get infected with influenza and they spread it among themselves and then pass it along to the older children and adults, as well as the elderly.

KAGAN: So if you're kind of stopping it in its tracks. If they don't get it, then it doesn't go any further than that.

MANDL: Yes, so I think it will be no surprise to a parent of a child this age that these kids bring home these from their school and daycare and pre-school settings and that then other household members get sick. So what is surprising and what we've shown is that not only are the kids spreading it around, but they are also are very early in the process of spread, and that we're seeing them really lead off the epidemic every year.

KAGAN: OK. So that's all well and good and I think a parent might understand that. But there's a lot of parents out there that think that their children are already overvaccinated. So you might have a tough argument to make that for the benefit of the general population, I'm going to give my kid another shot.

MANDL: Yes, I think you're absolutely right about that. And that's a decision that individual parents will have to make. I think that there is some benefit to the family members, particularly if there are elderly members of the family or people in the family who for some reason would be more vulnerable to the flu than average, to try to prevent the flu from being brought into the household.

KAGAN: What about the side effects of giving a 3 or 4-year-old a flu shot?

MANDL: Well, you know, the side effects are very, very minimal. And for this reason, over the past five years, the flu vaccine has been given very widely to even very young infants. On the other hand, there is always a risk benefit ratio to be considered, and this is something that a parent really should discuss with a pediatrician. And again, right now there is no recommendation to vaccinate 3 and 4- year-olds...

KAGAN: Right.

MANDL: ... particularly.

BROWNSTEIN: And we want to stress that 3 and 4-year-olds are not at any greater risk of influenza complications than any other age group, any older kids.

KAGAN: Well, so let me ask you this, too. There was a problem in recent years just in simple supply. The other people who have been told to get a flu shot, there haven't been enough.

MANDL: Yes, the supply is certainly an issue. This year there's no vaccine shortage yet and I would urge people certainly to wait and see whether we have adequate vaccine supply to vaccinate the vulnerable groups. But afterwards, it's going to be an individual decision. I can tell you that these past couple years, there has been a rush on that vaccine supply for older children and the shortages actually caused a lot of anxiety about kids not being able to get the vaccine. So, you know, we'll have to see what happens this year.

Again, 3 and 4-year-olds are at no particular risk. I don't think anyone needs to worry too much about whether their kids are vaccinated. But going forward, if we're trying to prevent an influenza epidemic and potentially a serious influenza epidemic, one public health approach is going to be to try to not just vaccinate the people who are most vulnerable, but to vaccinate the spreaders of the disease.

KAGAN: Oh, those little 3-year-olds, those little spreaders. At the end of the day, you want to go talk to your pediatrician about what's best for your own children.

MANDL: Definitely.

BROWNSTEIN: Definitely.

KAGAN: And we will leave it at that. Kenneth Mandl, John Brownstein, thank you...

MANDL: Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

KAGAN: ... for discussing the topic. I know it's going to catch the attention of a lot of parents out there.

Let's go ahead and take a look at other stories making news coast to coast on this Thursday. Keep your eyes on this patrol cruiser. The side -- oh! -- the side of the road. High speed chase ending here with a minivan slamming into an Idaho state police car. Now, get this, no officers were injured. The minivan driver, though, is in intensive care. Police were trying to arrest the driver on an aggravated battery case.

The mansion best known as stately Wayne Manor has been destroyed by fire. It was in Pasadena, California. It had been used in filming the 1960 "Batman" series and other TV shows and movies. The owners of the home had been remodeling it. No word on the status of the bat cave.

Seattle is testing in a rubber sidewalk. The city arborer says rubber could be more economical than concrete in the long term. The rubber sidewalk doesn't crack, it bends for tree roots, and it could save trees. Rubber sidewalks are being tried in 80 cities in eight states.

One of Hollywood's hottest couples has some big news. The latest on Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and their new, um, project coming up. We're not talking a movie. Coming up.


KAGAN: President Bush reveals new details about the war on terror. He gave a speech this morning where he says 10 Al Qaeda attacks worldwide have been disrupted since 9/11, three that were meant for U.S. soil. I had a chance to get reaction to his speech from our CNN's contributors Paul Begala and Bay Buchanan.


PAUL BEGALA, CNN POL. CONTRIBUTOR: The tone was interesting. There he was in the Ronald Reagan Amphitheater. And yet, there wasn't the same Reagan-esque, sunny optimism that President Reagan always gave us in the Cold War. Where, again, we were facing implacable foes, great ideological struggle.

KAGAN: Well, Paul, he wasn't coming here to promise us a rose garden. He was coming here to give us an update in the war on terror.

BEGALA: Right. And this is an important shift in tone. The president, for years now, has -- before the war, supporters said it would be a cakewalk; others said that we'd be greeted as liberators. Vice President Cheney said that. The president himself gave that famous speech with the banner "Mission Accomplished" behind him. This is not that tone.

This is an important shift in tone for the president. Frankly, it's one that I welcome. But it's an important one. There were not very many facts in there. And David Ensor, of course, got right to the news and I'd like to know a whole lot more about the attacks that the president says that we have disrupted. I think it's terrific news for Americans.

But I don't know that this will stop the slide in support that's going on in the war for Iraq. I mean, that's an awfully tall order to ask of just one speech at 10:0 a.m. Eastern time, at that. But I think the audience sounded a lot more...

KAGAN: Don't go knocking my time slot, Paul. Don't go knocking my time slot.

BEGALA: No, I love your time slot. But it's interesting. I think that perhaps the audience was more the Muslim world than U.S. public opinion. I think that -- I know the president's very close aide, Karen Hughes, who's now at the State Department, has just come back from a tour of the Muslim world. And I see her fine hand in this. I think that the speech may have been more directly aimed at Muslim popular opinion than American popular opinion.

KAGAN: Well, and one of the points the president made, that most of the victims in Iraq have been Iraqi civilians.

Bay, let's go ahead and bring you in. There was a promise from the White House that we were going to hear unprecedented details in this speech. I don't know that we heard that. Also a demand early on from congressional Democrats saying we want an outline, we want specifics about where we go from here. It's not enough to say we're going stay the course.

BAY BUCHANAN, CNN POL. CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think what the president did was outstanding. First of all, it was a very strong speech, and he was extremely confident. He came across as the commander in chief. He understands this problem. He's laying it out for us. And I'll tell you what he did that I thought was extremely effective. He gave a face to this enemy. You know, up to now it's war on terrorists, we're after terrorists. And now he actually called it, it was radical Islam. It is a global problem. He gave ideas of what their methods are, how they recruit, what their goals were. And he tied Iraq into it. The goal that would be a base for them, then they would spread out from there.

I think what he did -- then he tied the communism into it, which is something tangible Americans can understand, know that it was a tough battle but that we won it, showing some real hope there. I think it was extremely effective. I disagree with Paul. I think this is possibly a turning point where at least American people will start saying, yes, this, is something we can win, we need to win, but it is going to be a tough battle. And I think his support will start to rise again.

KAGAN: OK, we have one minute left, so I'm going to give about 20 seconds to each of you. Paul, first of all, do you think this is going to change the numbers? And will Democrats actually come up with a plan as an alternative?

BEGALA: It will not change the numbers, because the numbers are being driven by facts on the ground, not words in the air. The president said -- and I'm quoting here -- he said, 80 Iraqi battalions are quote, "fighting alongside our troops." Well, alongside our troops...

KAGAN: You say it's not going change numbers. I have to give Bay the last 10 seconds, sorry.

BEGALA: No, it won't, because...

KAGAN: OK, Bay, are they going to change -- is it going to change numbers, this speech?

BUCHANAN: As I said, I think it will start -- I think people will start looking more positively and I think the president's going to have to stay at it.


KAGAN: Our thanks to Bay Buchanan and Paul Begala for that intelligent talk. See, we're getting kind of close to lunchtime. Actually, we're in the middle of lunchtime hour on the East Coast. So we were thinking food fight of sorts in the Florida Everglades.

Up next, John Zarrella takes a look at who's jockeying for position on the food chain, coming up.



DAVID LETTERMAN, NIGHT SHOW HOST: Here's last-minute big news, ladies and gentlemen. According to reports, Tom Cruise -- Tom Cruise -- and Katie Holmes are expecting a baby.

PAUL SHAFFER: Oh, my goodness

LETTERMAN: Yep. So apparently Oprah's couch wasn't the only thing Tom was jumping on.


KAGAN: Dave, Dave, Dave, come on. All right, well, yes, it's true. Apparently, a baby is on board for Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. One Cruise associate tells a celebrity columnist that pregnancy should an end the endless stories about the sham relationship. We will see about that. Congratulations to them.

The woman who was held hostage by the Atlanta courthouse shooting suspect credits God's help in leading to his surrender. Ashley Smith also admits giving Brian Nichols crystal meth, but she said it was unintentional and that the moment led to her getting off illegal drugs. Smith spoke last night with CNN's Larry King.


ASHLEY SMITH: He asked me if I had been watching the news. I said a little bit. And he said, "You know the whole Brian Nichols thing" and right then my heart just dropped and I was like this can't be happening to me. He took the hat off. He said, "Now do you know who I am"? And I was like, oh wow, please just don't hurt me.

So, a few, I guess it was about 20 or 30 minutes later he wanted to take a shower and he actually -- he actually asked me if I had any marijuana in the house. I mean obviously we talked a little bit. He -- I don't...

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Still holding a gun on you?

SMITH: Right and I said no. And, in the attempt to do everything that he said, the words I have ice just came out of my mouth.

KING: Ice is?

SMITH: Crystal meth.

KING: And you were addicted to that?

SMITH: I was addicted to it.

KING: And still had some? You had stopped taking it but still had some?

SMITH: I still had some for me. I had done some the day before.

KING: Really?

SMITH: And had slept and then started the day on Friday. And so when he got out of the shower he asked for it.

KING: When he's in the shower why didn't you run?

SMITH: I was tied up at the time.


SMITH: Right and as soon as I said I have crystal meth, I thought, wow, I've just, you know, said I have this stuff that makes me crazy, makes me -- I mean it put me into a mental hospital.

KING: But you just used it the day before.

SMITH: It took my health. It made me give custody of my daughter up but I've offered it to a man that's allegedly killed these people and...

KING: Had he ever taken it?

SMITH: He said that he hadn't. He said he had heard of it.

KING: So, how did you administer it?

SMITH: But he said that was -- that was just what he needed.


KAGAN: And, by the way, CNN congratulating Larry. Twenty years of great television. Tune into his special show tonight. CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. So abandon romantic notions of nature as a bucolic, tranquil place. In the reality, the wild can be violent and terrifying. CNN's John Zarrella has one such story from the Florida Everglades. It is the true tale of alien versus predator.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's clearly a case where his eyes were bigger than his stomach. To the center and right of this photo are the hind legs and tail of a six-foot alligator, stuffed inside the belly of a beast that could be gaining supremacy in Florida's Everglades.

The beast, to the center and left of the photo, is what's left of a 12.5 foot Burmese python. The snake apparently won the fight but ultimately gorged itself to death.

SKIP SNOW, PARK BIOLOGIST: So you have your wild born, didn't buy it at a pet shop.

ZARRELLA: To park biologist Skip Snow and wildlife technician Lori Oberhoffer (ph) the tangle in the swamp is a growing concern. Alligators, the native, top of the food chain species here, may not be tough enough to control the python population.

SNOW: Once they get bigger, once they exceed the size of the native snakes -- seven, eight, nine feet, get sort of out of that range that our predators are comfortable with, if you will -- it's unlikely that they have much of a natural predator here.

ZARRELLA: Biologists say, pythons, which are not poisonous were first introduced into the park by people who had them as pets.

(on camera): Park biologists say that within the first two years of its life the Burmese python can grow to nine feet long and that, they say, is when people who keep them as pets decide they're much too difficult to handle.

(voice-over): In the past two years, Snow has documented more than 150 python captures. Before that, captures numbered only in the dozens. Last year, wildlife photographer Mike Mercier (ph) captured these images of another showdown between a giant python and an alligator. And it's images like these that are prompting park ranges to track, trap, and indicate this snake in the river of grass.

John Zarrella, CNN, in Everglades National Park.


KAGAN: It is lunchtime. We will check on the other jungle, the jungle of Wall Street, just ahead, after this.


KAGAN: That's going to wrap it up for me, Daryn Kagan, for the last three hours. Kyra Phillips will be with you at the top of the hour.



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