Measles cases are on the rise again in the US. Why is it that this ‘eradicated’ (in the USA) virus is still causing harm?
It’s been about 15 years since Andrew Wakefield first suggested that:
We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella [(MMR)] immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.(1)
Wakefield clarified this statement in an interview with Brian Deer:
I have to say that there is sufficient anxiety in my own mind of the safety, the long term safety of the polyvalent, that is the MMR vaccination in combination, that I think that it should be suspended in favour of the single vaccines. (2)
Reading the initial publication, there is not a very convincing argument made for the vaccine causing autism. And it would be curious why Wakefield would make such a connection – except that he was also in the process of forming a company with a patented test for “autistic enterocolitis” that could produce $43 million (US) in revenue for investors according to the prospectus.(3) That might be reason enough. Further, the primary interest that lead to the investigation of whether the MMR vaccine might cause autism came not from a sound scientific hypothesis, but from lawyers willing to pay for study results that could be used in their ongoing prosecution of drug manufacturers. According to the British Medical Journal, Wakefield received $674,000 in compensation as payment for doing this research and also in support of Wakefield’s new diagnostic company, Carmel Healthcare Ltd. (4)
Over the years Wakefield has bobbed and weaved like a boxer shifting his hypotheses on how MMR vaccine causes autism from Measles proteins migrating from the location of the shot, to the gut and then to the brain – to the Mercury preservative, thimerosal – to the number of antigens (immune-stimulating particles) children are faced with as they receive their first vaccines. Nevertheless, his results have not been duplicated (to the extent that they were shown to begin with) and no additional evidence has come forward supporting any of these speculations.
The resulting controversy dealt a heavy blow to immunization efforts in the UK. Meanwhile, in the United states, which officially eradicated Measles in 2000, record numbers of cases are now being reported. So far 20 cases of the disease have been reported in New York (5), while another 32 have been reported in California which “allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their children if they fill out a form stating they don’t believe in vaccinations.”(6)
Thanks, Dr. Wakefield. Most of us have forgotten what Measles looks like. Now we can remember.
For more information about Measles, see the WHO fact sheet:
- Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
- In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.
1. RETRACTED: "Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children" AJ Wakefield, SH Murch, A Anthony, J Linnell, DM Casson, M Malik, M Berelowitz, AP Dhillon, MA Thomson, P Harvey, A Valentine, SE Davies, JA Walker-Smith The Lancet 28 February 1998 (Volume 351 Issue 9103 Pages 637-641 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(97)11096-0)
4. "Secrets of the MMR scare: How the vaccine crisis was meant to make money" 2011. http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5258
5. "Measles Outbreak Now Up To 20 Cases In New York City"20 March 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/19/measles-new-york_n_4994100.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular
6. "Surge in measles cases continues: California now has 32 in 2014" 14 March 2014. http://www.scpr.org/news/2014/03/14/42809/measles-cases-continue-to-rise-in-california/