Entries in MMR (3)


Docs Find Rise in Measles Cases a 'Tragedy'

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- For many doctors, reports by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing the largest increase in measles cases in almost 20 years is troubling but not surprising.

"This is a tragedy," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Only six months into the calendar year, 152 Americans have already been diagnosed with measles -- double the average number of cases in a half-year, and the largest outbreak in nearly two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thirty-five percent of the patients were hospitalized, and nine cases progressed to pneumonia, according to the CDC.

Signs of measles, a highly contagious viral respiratory disease, can easily be confused with the common cold. The disease progresses quickly and can lead to fatal complications.

Most who were diagnosed were not vaccinated against the disease, the CDC said. The combination measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is the strongest protection not only for those who get the shot, but also those who are immunocompromised, thus vulnerable to the disease and unable to receive the vaccine, said Dr. Larry Givner, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The first dose of the combination MMR vaccine is given to children 12 to 15 months old, according to CDC recommendations. The second dose is usually given before the start of kindergarten to ensure that a child has developed immunity.

The MMR vaccine has contributed to a 99-percent reduction in cases in the U.S.

The spike in reported measles cases comes on the heels of a survey released in early June by the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Vaccine Program Office that showed that nearly 80 percent of parents are uncomfortable about having their children vaccinated in general, not just against the measles.

While many of the parents are simply queasy about the needle, their concerns include doubts about the safety of vaccines, the number of vaccines their children receive, and the persistent worries that the vaccines are to be blamed for disabilities like autism, the study said.

Despite their concerns, at least 95 percent of parents have their children vaccinated while only five percent skip some of the vaccines. Only two percent say they would avoid vaccines altogether.

Parental uncertainty over vaccinations means there is a continuing need for reassurance and education about the necessity of getting kids immunized, the CDC said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


British Researcher Wakefield Defends Link Between Vaccine, Autism

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Controversial British surgeon Dr. Andrew Wakefield defended allegations by authors that his research citing a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism were outright "fraudulent."

"There was no fraud, there was no falsification, there was no hoax," Wakefield told ABC News Monday.

Evidence Wakefield published in 1998 gave birth to the belief of a connection between vaccines and autism, which ignited a nationwide public health scare and a larger anti-vaccine movement.

But authors of the editorial published nearly two weeks ago in the British Medical Journal confirmed previous suggestions that Wakefield skewed patients' medical records to support his hypothesis that the widely-used measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) combination vaccine was causing autism and irritable bowel disease.

"The work certainly does raise a question mark over MMR vaccine," Wakefield said in a 1998 interview.

But editorial authors wrote, "clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare."

According to the editorial, Wakefield stood to gain financially from his purported findings because of his involvement in a lawsuit against manufacturers of the MMR vaccine.  British news reports said Wakefield was hired as a consultant by lawyers trying to sue the vaccine's manufacturers.  His compensation, they said, was about $750,000.

Wakefield denied on Monday any allegations of wrongdoing.  He said British reporter Brian Deers, who led the latest investigation unraveling Wakefield's research, used selective information from the study to build a case against Wakefield.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


BMJ Declares MMR Study 'Elaborate Fraud'

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News(LONDON) – An article in the British Medical Journal has declared that a study that linked the MMR vaccine to autism was “an elaborate fraud” that may have led to the preventable disease and death of children.

In an editorial, the BMJ has charged that a 1998 study in Lancet by Andrew Wakefield was not just bad science, but rather a deliberate falsification of data. The journal’s editor-in-chief, Fiona Godlee, has called for an investigation into Wakefield’s other studies to determine if they too should be retracted. Lancet itself retracted the article a year ago, saying it contained elements that were “incorrect.”

Godlee has likened the scare caused by the article to the Piltdown man, the paleontological hoax that convinced people for 40 years that the missing link between man and ape had been found.

In a series of three articles, Godlee, along with deputy BMJ editor Jane Smith and leading pediatrician and associate BMJ editor Harvey Marcovitch, conclude that there is “no doubt” that it was Wakefield who perpetrated the fraud. Meanwhile, they say he has denied any wrongdoing.

“Instead, although now disgraced and stripped of his clinical and academic credentials, he continues to push his views. Meanwhile the damage to public health continues,” they said.

Medical experts have declared outrage over the article, questioning how many parents may have kept their children from vaccines based on Wakefield’s study.

 “We can only wonder how many children may have died or suffered debilitating illnesses because of this slander against a powerful medical tool that could have saved them, and how many still will before the autism scare is finally put to rest,” said Robert Field, professor of Law at Drexel University.

Some also question the study’s effect on the public’s trust in science.

“Andrew Wakefield has done inestimable damage to the public health both in the U.S. and Europe,” said Bill Schaffner, chairman of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt. “Bad enough when his work was thought to be a combination of inept science and misguided hucksterism – now there are allegations of premeditated fraud!”

And if those allegations are correct, could Wakefield be charged criminally or civilly in England or the U.S.? According to British and American legal experts, prosecutors would have to prove that Wakefield deliberately and knowingly published false information for personal gain. Furthermore, they would have to prove the study was a "substantial factor" in parents' decision to forego vaccination and that Wakefield could have "reasonably foreseen" kids getting sick because of his fraudulent study.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio