Measles strikes again

In 2000, the United States were declared measles free, due to high vaccine rates among the population. Two years before, the journal Lancet published a paper by Andrew Wakefield: in this paper the researcher stated a correlation between MMR vaccine (against measles, mumps and rubella) and serious complications like inflammatory diseases, regressive developmental disorder and autism. Many consider this the beginning of the anti-vaccination movement. However, in the following years it became clear that the data used by Wakefield were false: the paper was retracted and his medical license was revoked. His influence as a spokesperson in anti-vaccine groups, though, remained unchanged.

Although the vaccine coverage remains high, the relatively small drop in vaccination rates resulted in a significant increase in the number of measles outbrakes in the last two years, as shown by a report by the Centre for Disease Control.

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In the early months of 2015 5 measles outbreaks happened already, often brought by tourists or visitors to the US but spreading in communities where groups of people are not immunized or whose immune system is not functioning properly because of other diseases. One example is the powerful outbreak that spread last December from Disneyland, in California: the vaccination rate of the people exposed may have been as low as 50%, and likely no higher than 86%. 147 Americans were infected, and the virus spread in other states, resulting in many cases in Canada, were the outbreak was active until April.

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(Martina Di Ciano)

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2 pensieri su “Measles strikes again

  1. I think these “well-meaning” parents don’t get that not vaccinating their children they actually expose them to a far greater risk than that posed by the vaccination itself. Measles doesn’t cause only skin spots, it can indeed be quite dangerous. According to the WHO, “the most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhea and related dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.”  Measles can lead to death. Before the introduction of the vaccine, every year 2,6 million people died worldwide because of it. Nowadays measles is still one of the leading causes of death among young children. “In 2013, there were 145 700 measles deaths globally – about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour” states the WHO. Meanwhile the MMR vaccine is safe. Like every medication it can have side effects, these however are in most cases minor. The CDC says “The MMR vaccine sometimes causes pain where the shot is given, fever, a mild rash, or swelling of the neck or cheek.  On very rare occasions, the vaccine’s ingredients cause severe (anaphylactic) allergic reactions. In addition, the MMR vaccine has been linked with a very small risk of febrile seizures (seizures or jerking caused by fever).” According to two studies 4 out of 10000 children vaccinated will have a febrile seizure 5-12 days after the injection. Another extremely rare risk linked with measles vaccine is immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a disorder that decreases the blood platelet count. It’s been estimated that 1 out of 40000 children vaccinated develops ITP. There is no proof that measles vaccine cause autism. This is just a lie, a harmful lie, that lead many parents to not vaccinate their children, thus trading a low-risk procedure for the high risk of developing a dangerous infection.

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  2. The past March a kid died in Rome because of Measles’ complications. Her parents were both doctors. The real enemies of life-saving immunization are graduates, well informed and politically active people, who consider themselves competent to decide by themselves. When we consider the issue of vaccination we should take a step further from Wakefield’s fraud and deepen the investigation. Massimiano Bucchi, professor of Sociology of Science at University of Trento, says we are facing a mediators’ crisis. People don’t read newspapers, don’t ask advices to the scientist or practitioner friends anymore. People surf the Internet. People google big universities websites and read researchers’ blogs. They get in touch with a multitude of information (all reliable), but too much to orientate the common citizen. The problem lies in this ocean of information without a mediator: the common citizen uses the PERSONAL BELIEF to get the idea of the issue (in this case vaccination) and to jump to the next discussion.

    (posted by Veronica Ruberti)

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