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Measles Outbreak in UK Fifteen Years After Controversial Vaccination Claim


Mercury-containing vaccines have been debated over the past decade when a small study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield warned that certain preventative vaccines, particularly the MMR vaccine, was linked to an increased risk for autism spectrum disorders. The study has since been retracted and subsequent studies have failed to find any association.

Back in 1998, however, parents were convinced not to vaccinate their children against measles and the effects are now being seen around the world. In southwest Wales, the number of new measles infections has increased ten-fold.

Although the number of people with measles has decreased in the United States by more than 99% since a vaccine became widely available in 1963, so far in 2013, about 118 people have been reported as being infected. Two states, New York and North Carolina, have reported outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most infected persons were not vaccinated or did not know their vaccination status.

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Measles aren’t the only preventable disease to make a comeback. Mumps cases are also increasing, per a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, there was an outbreak in the UK that had spread to 4,000 people.

In Japan, there has been an outbreak of rubella or German Measles. According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 672 cases of clinically confirmed rubella were reported throughout the country.

The MMR vaccine protects us from all three of these conditions – measles, mumps and rubella. It is given in two doses, first at 12 to 15 months of age and then again before a child enters school at 4 to 6 years.

While there could be potential side effects associated with the vaccines, such as rash, soreness, or fever, the benefits far outweigh any potential risks. Measles, mumps and rubella are all very serious illnesses. Each can have complications that lead to lifetime disability or even death. For example, for every 1000 children who get measles, 1 or 2 will die from it, per the National Institutes of Health.

Smithsonian Magazine
LA Times
National Institutes of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention