Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's baaaa-aack

A few months ago I wrote about a recent spate of measles cases in North America. After years of low immunization rates, the same thing has been happening in the United Kingdom, to the point where measles is once again endemic after more than a decade of halted spread.
Fourteen years after the local transmission of measles was halted in the United Kingdom (UK), the disease has once again become endemic, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the public health body of England and Wales. In an update on measles cases in its weekly bulletin last week, the agency stated that, as a result of almost a decade of low mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccination coverage across the UK, ‘the number of children susceptible to measles is now sufficient to support the continuous spread of measles’
Current vaccination rates in the UK are well below the 95% desired to maintain herd immunity. Of over 50 lab-confirmed measles cases in Scotland so far this year (there have been 461 in England and Wales), only 2 of them were imported from overseas.

Measles is no longer endemic to Canada and the USA, but remains endemic in many other countries. If the current anti-vaccination movement continues to flourish, how long will it be before it returns to our shores?

[via Respectful Insolence]


Bayman said...

who's AGAINST vaccination? i thought your beef was with the groups who want cleaner, mercury-free vaccines, and the faulty autism-contaminant link. the appeal for safe therapeutics (based on fears that are well-founded or not), is not anti-therapeutic.

if measles starts to resurge in the US, i guarantee you won't hear these groups campaigning AGAINST vaccination per se.

i think your characterization is way too extreme in unnecessarily vilifying a group that is by and large concerned with children's safety. i have a lot of trouble seeing it as a secret conspiracy to end vaccination and bring forth a measles induced armageddon...

Anonymous said...

"if measles starts to resurge in the US, i guarantee you won't hear these groups campaigning AGAINST vaccination per se."

That's interesting optimism, without any support. What would make you think, in a country where people routinely go for homeopathy, herbal supplements, chakra realigning etc. in lieu of conventional therapies known to work - a country where there is a strong push to teach creationism in classrooms in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary - that people would suddenly change their minds about vaccines in particular?

Kamel said...

Who's against vaccination?

"If a “dirty bomb” exposed a large segment of US citizens simultaneously to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza B, three strains of polio viruses, 3 strains of influenza viruses, measles, mumps, and rubella viruses, the chickenpox virus, and 7 strains of Streptococcus bacteria, we would declare a national emergency. We would call it an “extreme act of BIOTERRORISM”"

"My objections are that it does not work; it is unnatural, that the human race has survived healthily for countless generations without them and that homeopathy provides a better alternative that is both safe and effective."

"The greatest threat of childhood diseases lies in the dangerous and ineffectual efforts made to prevent them through mass immunization.....There is no convincing scientific evidence that mass inoculations can be credited with eliminating any childhood disease."

"Vaccines aren't safe, and are far more dangerous than the diseases."

"Vaccination is the main cause of autism, and they are not looking for the truth in that regard, for the truth could destroy the medical industry with a 'dominoe effect.'" [the above three quotes are all from which has a whole pile of crazy stuff]

"I have committed myself to forcing the pharmaceutical industry to pay for these transgressions and punish them financially. It is the only way to get them to change their behavior." [a commenter at huffingtonpost, in response to a plea to focus time/resources on autism awareness and support instead of propagating the mercury-autism myth]

"Mercury seems to be getting tons of coverage. When that deal is settled and we win , we need to go after another ingredient. We'll dismantle the vaccine industry ingredient by stupid ingredient if we have to." [posted at]

This group is devoted to people who are even anti-"Green Vaccine".

It's quite easy to find people who are against vaccines or promoting toxin/autism/other scare tactics [this paperhas an analysis of anti-vaccination activists on the web]

All of that is beside the point though. Nobody is talking about conspiracies or armageddon. What we have is an infectious disease with serious effects that had no more native presense in the UK. We also have a safe, effective, economical way to prevent that disease. Because of lack of uptake of the latter (which is not just a personal but public health issue), the former has now made a comeback and is present in the population where it hadn't been before. I fail to see how this is anything but a bad thing.

Since it's the characterization that you don't like, feel free to change the last line of the post to something like: "If people, for whatever reason, continue to decline vaccination, will the same thing happen in North America?"