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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Andrew Wakefield Must Be Proud

On April 20, the World Health Organization's European Region reported 6500 cases of measles year to date in 2011.  France alone has experienced 4937 cases reported between January and March 2011.  To put that in perspective, they reported 5090 cases in the whole of 2010 and they're currently on track to experience close to 20,000 cases if trends continue.  Why is this happening?  Well, the press release states:  "Outbreaks and the further spread of measles are likely to continue so long as people remain unimmunized or do not get immunized on time according to the routine immunization schedule."
Yep.  That's right.  The blame for the sudden uptick in measles cases can be laid squarely on the failure to immunize.  But why should we care?  How about the fact that 1% of all newborn children that died in 2008 died from measles[1], and that measles is the #4 cause of death for children in the first five years of life?  We just don't see it all that much in the US, because 95% of those deaths occur in low-income countries, where the mortality rate of measles can reach as high as 10%.
And so, rather than lift the third world up to our own standard of living and eradicate this disease, we seem to be in a downhill race to join them.
Well done, Andrew Wakefield.  Well done, Jenny McCarthy.  Well done.
[1]  That's between 10,000 and 20,000 children per year dying in the first month of life.

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