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Measles outbreak in the UK

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
measles, infectious diseases, measles outbreak

There is a deadly epidemic of measles in Wales and the UK and I felt it was my public duty to let you know. 

Some of you may be travelling there with babies/children and its important to make sure they've been immunised before you go. Please don't risk it.

As a nurse I immunise babies and children at a local GP's (in Sydney, Australia) each week, so my view on immunisation is most obviously pro.

I wasn't going to write about immunisation despite my beliefs. It's obviously a controversial topic but as usual my conscience got the better of me. And yes as parents you have choice to vaccinate or not but I'd like you to read this blog and have a really good think about it. If this does nothing else but make you think I've achieved something.

As a Health visitor in England, I had a 3 year old boy die on my caseload, in Salford, Manchester who was infected by a disease (Pneumococcal) that we now routinely immunise against (Prevenar vaccine). To visit that family to pass on my condolences was one of the hardest things I have had to do. You never forget. I'm telling you this story to explain my stance. These things form who you are as a Nurse.

My sister had whooping cough as a very young baby. Again I remember it well. Horrific. The spasms of coughing and  the look of panic and distress on her little face are things I will never forget. In those days we didn't immunise. We had no choice.

Nowadays we do.

So what is measles? Measles is an acute viral illness characterised by a cough, runny nose, sore throat, red eyes, a rash that begins behind the ears and a high temperature. One in 15 children who contract measles develop serious complications which can include bronchitis, pneumonia, convulsions and encephalitis.

In the 1970's prior to the immunisation schedule there were 7 child deaths from measles in Ireland. The vaccine was introduced for Measles, Mumps and Rubella in 1985. In 2000 3 children died of measles in Ireland and there were 1,600 reported cases. in 1993 there were over 4000 reported cases.  A preventable tragedy.

It's not just the deaths, there are the children left with brain damage and deafness after encephalitis (brain inflammation) and convulsions as well as other medical conditions.

In Australia we have had a recent measles outbreak in New South Wales (Sept/Oct 2012) with 54 cases and 145 state wide over the last year. The cases were in West and South West Sydney and the Illawarra region. But it doesn't take much to let our guard down and we end up like Wales is at the moment.,606,en.pdf

Now we have another outbreak in the UK. A 25 year old male has died in South Wales from measles...

There are 808 confirmed cases of measles already in Wales. How many more and how many preventable deaths?

Roald Dahl the world famous author lost a daughter to measles encephalitis when she was just seven years of age.

The problem is that the vaccination rates of the UK are as low as 61% in some areas, not enough to provide herd immunity and prevent an epidemic. Even in Byron Bay, a notoriously low immunisation uptake area, in New South Wales their rates of immunisation are higher at 85% or just below. Parts of the Eastern Suburbs and Inner West of Sydney are not much better for their immunisation rates.

There was a huge scare campaign in the 90's in England against the combined MMR vaccine and the booster at 3 years old and it was linked to autism. This has since been unfounded and there have been huge randomised controlled trials in Sweden and Denmark of 50,000 children plus and no link has been found.

 The original campaign by Andrew Wakefield has done its damage and it's the 10-18 year olds that are most at risk now. And that is what is happening in Wales and other areas. Andrew Wakefield had his title of Dr removed and was deregistered from the General Medical Council in the UK on 24th may, 2010 for gross misconduct. 

Andrew Wakefield was found to have "spread fear that the MMR vaccine might lead to autism, even though he knew that his own laboratory had carried out tests whose results dramatically contradicted his claims in that the measles virus had not been found in a single one of the children concerned in his study and he knew or ought to have known that there was absolutely no basis at all for his belief that the MMR should be broken up into single vaccines."

Sobering reading...

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