MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

It has been reported that, between 1 January 2018 and 31 May 2018, there have been 587 laboratory confirmed measles cases in England. They were reported in most areas with London (213), the South East (128), West Midlands (81), South West (62), and Yorkshire/Humberside (53). Young people and adults who missed out on MMR vaccine when they were younger and some under-vaccinated communities have been particularly affected.

Public Health England (PHE) local health protection teams are working closely with the NHS and local authorities to raise awareness with health professionals and local communities. Anyone who is not sure if they are fully vaccinated should check with their GP practice who can advise them.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, said:

“The measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe. The majority of cases we are seeing are in teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were children. Anyone who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had 2 doses should contact their GP practice to catch-up. This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at 1 year of age and as a pre-school booster at 3 years and 4 months of age. We’d also encourage people to ensure they are up to date with their MMR vaccine before travelling to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks. The UK recently achieved WHO measles elimination status and so the overall risk of measles to the UK population is low, however, we will continue to see cases in unimmunised individuals and limited onward spread can occur in communities with low MMR coverage and in age groups with very close mixing.”

__________________________________________________________________________________

And what has this to do with alternative medicine?

More than meets the eye, I fear.

The low vaccination rates are obviously related to Wakefield’s fraudulent notions of a link between MMR-vaccinations and autism. Such notions were keenly lapped up by the SCAM-community and are still being trumpeted into the ears of parents across the UK. As I have discussed many times, lay-homeopaths are at the forefront of this anti-vaccination campaign. But sadly the phenomenon is not confined to homeopaths nor to the UK; many alternative practitioners across the globe are advising their patients against vaccinations, e. g.:

Considering these facts, I wish Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, would have had the courage to add to her statement: IT IS HIGH TIME THAT ALTERNATIVE PRACTITIONERS DO MORE THAN A MEEK LIP SERVICE TO THE FACT THAT VACCINATIONS SAVE LIVES.

21 Responses to Thanks a bunch, Wakefield & Co: outbreaks of measles are confirmed across England.

  • For comparison purposes, out of the 587 documented measles cases, how many suffered permanent physical or mental harm? Did any of these measles cases result in death?

    • I do not have this information; to give a verdict about permanent harm, it would be too early anyway. I don’t hope anyone has died; statistically, this would be very unlikely – the death rate of measles is 1 in 5 000.

    • For comparison purposes, out of the 587 documented measles cases, how many suffered at all? How many cost the NHS more to treat than the total cost of vaccination? How much greater is the inconvenience to patient, family and society than a couple of trips to the doctors?
      For comparison purposes, how much more cash is in the tills of homeopaths and other CAM buffoons as they paved the path to these 587 (so far) patients suffering from measles?

    • The problem isn’t so much these 587 cases per se, even though this will have led to an estimated 25 cases with more or less severe complications (pneumonia and ear infection, the latter potentially resulting in deafness).
      The problem is that for some unfathomable reason, it appears to be ‘trendy’ to refuse vaccinations and ‘make up your own mind’ (i.e. heed the antivaccine propaganda), instead of listening to people who actually know a bit or two about contagious disease and vaccination, and have studied said subjects for many, many years.

      Ans this leads to the real problem that in the not too distant future, we can expect to have not merely half a thousand cases of measles annually, but many thousands. And with those numbers, death and severe disability are no longer a minor possibility, but a certainty. We’ve seen this happening in Japan: in 1993, a badly managed incident with an infected mumps vaccine (resulting in the death of three children) led to a general antivaccine panic where the MMR vaccine uptake decreased dramatically almost instantly. The result: ever larger measles epidemics, with some 180,000 cases and 90 measles deaths in the year 2000, and a far greater number of permanent disabilities, not to mention thousands of hospitalizations for severe complications. The faulty mumps vaccine may have caused 3 deaths, the vaccine scare in subsequent years made a hundred times as many casualties, mostly among young children.

      One measles complication is particularly frightening: subacute sclerosing panencefalitis, in which the measles virus lies dormant in the brain for as long as a decade, after which it causes neurological degeneration, usually resulting in death within a few years. In effect, it is as if the child dies of Alzheimer. Recent research shows that this horrible ailment can have a incidence as high as one case for every ~600 cases of measles contracted in infancy. In other words: if all those 587 documented cases were small infants, chances are that one of them would eventually get SSPE.

      And then there’s this: not only is all this easily avoided by properly vaccinating our children, general measles vaccination can even be abandoned as soon as measles is eradicated, something that is within our reach, were it not for antivaccine activists who in effect keep measles alive and well.

    • Sandra! – do you have children?

      Did you by any chance read to them from Roald Dahl’s books?

      Perhaps you read to them from his book The BFG – The Big Friendly Giant, that he dedicated to the memory of Olivia, his little daughter who died in 1962 from measles encephalitis. She was a healthy, normally nourished sweet little seven year old who fell ill with measles a few years before the vaccine became available.
      As a result of his daughters tragic death, later in life Mr. Dahl became an avid proponent of immunisation (another word for vaccination) and he wrote the story of Olivias last days in a letter to you and me and the rest of mankind.

      This was in 1986 or 1988. At that time the case fatality rate of measles in the US was three measles-attributable deaths per 1000 cases.
      Will you please read the story in the link below Sandra (and you too Mr. Ullman!) and then tell us whether measles is a benign disease?

      Here is Mr Dahl’s account of how Olivia died:
      http://www.roalddahl.com/roald-dahl/timeline/1960s/november-1962

  • If people at THIS website are serious about “evidence based medicine,” then, I assume that you have some respect for the Cochrane Reports. Well, their review on the SAFETY of the MMR vaccine is, according to the summary: “The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate.”
    http://www.princeton.edu/~sswang/demicheli_pietrantonj12_cochrane_report_MMR-risks.pdf

    Further, it is odd, even very odd, that the pro-vax people tend to ignore the body of evidence that shows that there are immunological AND cardiovascular benefits to getting the real mumps and measles, as compared with getting the vaccine. Here’s a study published in a conventional cardiology journal that shows that people who get these childhood diseases are much less likely to die from a heart attack than those who get vaccinated to these diseases. There may be health benefits to getting these childhood illnesses…OR there may be detrimental effects from the vaccine (which is it?).

    • So?
      Does that mean that vaccinations are doing more harm than good?
      Does that mean getting mumps and measles is overall a benefit?

    • You might try reading past the abstract and look at the conclusions, Dana. “Existing evidence on the safety and effectiveness of MMR vaccine supports current policies of mass immunisation aimed at global measles eradication and in order to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with mumps and rubella.”

      You don’t link to your study allegedly showing how “beneficial” catching measles is. I’ll give you one from the WHO showing how beneficial the vaccine is and how it also reduces all-cause mortality. Link

      If you want the conclusions, they’re copied below.

      “Measles vaccination is one of the most cost-effective interventions for global health, and our results imply further immunological dividends: mortality (and probably morbidity) reductions linked to measles vaccination might be much greater than previously considered. This is of particular importance today where, especially in wealthy nations, reduced opportunistic infections during acute measles immunosuppression, added to the comparative rarity of infection, has led to a public view of measles as a benign childhood disease. Our findings help dispel the mystery surrounding the disproportionately large reductions in mortality seen after the introduction of measles vaccinations and reinforce the importance of measles vaccination in a global context.”

      • Whooops…thanx Lenny. I accidentally did not include my link…here it is:
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26122188/

        And isn’t it interesting that the review of meta-analyses you provided did NOT reference this study! I must wonder how many other studies are omitted in order to foster support for vaccines.

        To answer Ernst’s questions, this study provides the rationale for why each family should make their own health care decisions rather than having the MMR vaccine as “mandated.”

        And for the record, it is shocking that governments would make the MMR vaccine as “mandated” even though the evidence for its safety is “largely inadequate.” It seems that people here don’t care at all about safety of vaccines! How scientific, NOT!

        • “To answer Ernst’s questions, this study provides the rationale for why each family should make their own health care decisions rather than having the MMR vaccine as “mandated.” ”
          MY FOOT!
          What I find shocking is that you and many other homeopaths promote such lies about immunisations. See the other comments for further explanations.

          • Is it interesting that I quote a study in a cardiology journal, and NO ONE here denied the evidence that showed the BENEFITS from getting mumps or measles. And yet, one fool’s best criticism of this study was that the word “vaccine” was not mentioned! Yeah, that daft.

          • yes Dana, you are indeed that daft!
            too daft for us to even bother to link to your phoney evidence.
            remember what a US judge wrote about you:
            The Defendant presented the testimony of Gregory Dana Ullman who is a homeopathic practitioner. He outlined the theory of homeopathic treatment and presented his opinion as to the value and effectiveness of homeopathic remedies. The Court found Mr. Ullman’s testimony to be not credible. Mr. Ullman’s bias in favor of homeopathy and against conventional medicine was readily apparent from his testimony. He admitted that he was not an impartial expert but rather is a passionate advocate of homeopathy. He posted on Twitter that he views conventional medicine as witchcraft. He opined that conventional medical science cannot be trusted.
            […]
            Mr. Ullman’s testimony was unhelpful in understanding the purported efficacy of the ingredients of SnoreStop to reduce the symptoms of snoring. Although he is familiar with the theory of homeopathic treatment, his opinions regarding its effectiveness was unsupported and biased. The Court gave no weight to his testimony.

            COULD IT BE THAT MOST PEOPLE GIVE NO WEIGHT TO YOUR TESTIMONY?

          • “And yet, one fool’s best criticism of this study was that the word “vaccine” was not mentioned! Yeah, that daft.”

            No, Dana. You wanted to know why the study wasn’t included in a review of meta-analyses of vaccination studies. So I told you why. The study was nothing to do with vaccination. You’d know this if you could be bothered to read or try to understand but, fool that you are, you don’t. Yeah. You’re that daft, Dana. That daft.

            Continue to demonstrate your stupidity, Dana. It’s fun to read.

        • And what exactly do you mean by “safety” Mr. Ullman?

        • “And isn’t it interesting that the review of meta-analyses you provided did NOT reference this study!”

          Because the meta-analyses were to do with vaccinations, Dana. No mention was made of these in that study. Please try to keep up.

    • There may be health benefits to getting these childhood illnesses…OR there may be detrimental effects from the vaccine (which is it?).

      You left out option #3: these childhood illnesses are associated with higher mortality from one or more other causes, automatically decreasing cardiovascular disease as a cause of mortality.

      This is a common pitfall when studying cohorts with a high overall mortality such as older people. Also note that the researchers are not to blame here; they merely report the association they found, without speculating about causality.

      And even if full-blown viral infections somehow confer a degree of protection against CV disease, one should of course weigh this effect against the detrimental effects of the diseases themselves. Not to mention the fact that a causal link between surviving infectious diseases and protection against CV disease must be proven first. Even suggesting that contracting measles etcetera has net benefits based on this study is foolish in the extreme.

    • Dana, the mortality in a measles infection is roughly 1 per 1000. The complications rate is between 10 and 100 per thousand cases. I doubt that this outweights any stroke and cardivascular benefits, especially since the CI of the study comes quite close to 1.

    • Dana?
      Didn’t they teach you basic public health and epidemiology in the Berkeley MPH -Master of Public Health program, it is supposed to be the tenth best in the US?

      Or did you take a too dilute remedy and lose your memory?

  • Dana Ullman uses an old trick that many CAM supporters use to raise doubts about vaccination.
    Unknown dangers of vaccines are insinuated, facts are twisted and only negative aspects (e.g. the side-effects) of the vaccination are presented, without mentioning the far greater benefits that vaccinations bring.
    Let me apply this strategy to poliomyelitis:
    “You should not ignore the body of evidence that shows that there are MANY benefits to getting the real polio, as compared with getting the vaccine. For example: after real poliomyelitis, children are FAR LESS likely to become victims of ANY sport accident (which can even be lethal)! Even better, the more severe the polio case was, the less likely it will be that the child will be the victim of ANY KIND OF ACCIDENT AT ALL (including car, motorcycle, bicycle, skating, even plane accident, etc.) for the rest of his/her life!”

    Well, this cynical way of one-sided argumentation that the anti-vaccination people apply of course leaves out the facts that:

    *lethality of this serious course of the polio-disease is (according to Wikipedia) 2-20% (Mr. Ullman would probably consider this a good thing, because dead children can´t “die from a heart attack” later…)

    *the “reduced risk of accidents” is due to the severe paralysis of the persons affected by this devastating disease.

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