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Medicine Science

Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts 668

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-the-piper dept.
DavidHumus writes "Some of the longer-term effects of the anti-vaccination movement of past decades are now evident in a dramatic increase in measles. From the article: 'A measles outbreak infected 1,219 people in southwest Wales between November 2012 and early July, compared with 105 cases in all of Wales in 2011. One of the infected was Ms. Jenkins, whose grandmother, her guardian, hadn't vaccinated her as a young child. "I was afraid of the autism," says the grandmother, Margaret Mugford, 63 years old. "It was in all the papers and on TV."'"
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Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts

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  • Jenny McCarthy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:06AM (#44348943)

    Should be seen and not heard. Nor should anyone listen to her.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:09AM (#44348963)

    "I was afraid of the autism," says the grandmother, Margaret Mugford, 63 years old. "It was in all the papers and on TV."

    And here we have an illustration of your garden-variety Daily Mail reader [google.com].

    • by pr0nbot (313417) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:48AM (#44349203)

      I don't really blame her; she's probably doesn't have the kind of technical background that innoculates you against quackery. Nor do I really blame Andrew Wakefield; he's proven himself to be a poor scientist and generally a colossal douche, but in science there are mechanisms in place to deal with that (peer review etc). The real blame does indeed lie with the newspapers, who don't have a fucking clue about science and will send out the same guy who does the cinema reviews to cover a medical story. He of course studied Hispanic literature or whatever and doesn't know the first thing about science reporting, and falls prey to every logial fallacy and unconscious bias along the way.

      Newspapers should take truth and accurate reporting seriously. They should have a science editor with a scientific background who can check the work of the reporters. If they're not going to do it, and the consequence is panics and deaths, then perhaps we (i.e. our government) need to do it for them via a regulator.

  • You .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quantumghost (1052586) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:10AM (#44348967) Journal
    You can't fix stupid.....you can only hope evolution takes care of the problem.

    DR;PW (did not read;pay walled)

  • by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:11AM (#44348975)

    I enjoy telling the pharmacist that it's okay, I already have autism.

    ---

    It concerns me that there's a growing distrust of medicine. Every day it seems there are more and more people who insist, "Doctors don't know anything." It's a very disturbing phenomenon that's getting people killed.

    The medical community needs to start doing something about this.

    • It concerns me that there's a growing distrust of medicine. Every day it seems there are more and more people who insist, "Doctors don't know anything." It's a very disturbing phenomenon that's getting people killed. The medical community needs to start doing something about this.

      Two things. Yes, medical professionals need to act more scrupulously. But also, education needs to be advanced. People don't understand science so when doctors tell them something they weren't telling them yesterday they get all in a tiff.

      As long as the system is so clearly corrupted by money, though, people aren't going to trust health care professionals. As long as big pharma is taking meds off the market and replacing them with inferior versions in order to drive down demand for a generic and force people to continue to pay them, we're all going to know it's a scam. As long as doctors continue to prescribe whatever drugs the reps are wining and dinind them over, we're all going to know it's a scam. As long as hospitals continue to charge whatever the market will bear, we're all going to know it's a scam.

      • Trust (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sjbe (173966) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:28AM (#44349071)

        As long as the system is so clearly corrupted by money, though, people aren't going to trust health care professionals.

        People didn't vaccinate their kids because they heard a (false) series of stories on the news. The problem wasn't that they didn't trust their doctor too little but rather that they trusted the news too much. If you saw a steady parade of (dis)information from a news source you regard as credible, why would you doubt it? Saying vaccines cause autism is a nice sound bite which is easy to understand whereas the counter argument that there is no credible evidence of any link is harder to explain.

        As long as big pharma is taking meds off the market and replacing them with inferior versions in order to drive down demand for a generic and force people to continue to pay them, we're all going to know it's a scam.

        Name one medicine that has been "taken off the market and replaced" with an inferior version.

        • Re:Trust (Score:5, Informative)

          by Cassini2 (956052) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:54AM (#44349267)

          In Canada, Losec was taken off the market as Nexium launched, to ensure patients switched to the new patented drug (Nexium) before the patents on Losec expired.

          Now that the Losec patents have expired, Losec is back on the market.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The problem wasn't that they didn't trust their doctor too little but rather that they trusted the news too much.

          The problem was that they trusted themselves more than their doctor. The news never said vaccines cause autism, they just said over and over again that some people insisted that there was a leak.

          Name one medicine that has been "taken off the market and replaced" with an inferior version.

          Start here [wikipedia.org] and look at the replacement for each drug, in most cases with higher risk of side effects etc. In the USA the bar for bringing a derivative drug to market is lower than bringing the original and you do not have to prove that it is even as efficacious as the old version.

        • Re:Trust (Score:5, Informative)

          by Jahta (1141213) on Monday July 22, 2013 @08:13AM (#44349531)

          People didn't vaccinate their kids because they heard a (false) series of stories on the news. The problem wasn't that they didn't trust their doctor too little but rather that they trusted the news too much. If you saw a steady parade of (dis)information from a news source you regard as credible, why would you doubt it? Saying vaccines cause autism is a nice sound bite which is easy to understand whereas the counter argument that there is no credible evidence of any link is harder to explain.

          Agreed. But there's an important factor you missed; complacency resulting from the success of vaccinations on previous generations.

          I grew up in the late 1950's and 1960's when diseases like measles, polio and others still killed people (especially kids) every year and left others with life changing disabilities. My folks, and their peers, wouldn't have dreamed of refusing vaccinations; they could see the clear and present dangers that resulted from NOT vaccinating.

          Roll forward a few decades and vaccination had completely eradicated these diseases in the western world. So when modern parents decided not to vaccinate their kids (due completely unfounded autism scares), they didn't realise the enormity of the genuine risks they were exposing the kids to.

          Re the media coverage of the "MMR Scare", which was (and in some cases still is) shameful, it is well covered the chapter "The Media’s MMR Hoax" in Ben Goldacre's excellent Bad Science [amazon.co.uk]. The tabloids, in particular, continued to report Andrew Wakefield's opinions as gospel, long after the overwhelming weight of readily available evidence proved them bogus.

    • by drsmithy (35869)

      It concerns me that there's a growing distrust of medicine.
      It's not medicine, it's science, and it's a phenomenon that's common across the anglo countries.

      • by asaul (98023) on Monday July 22, 2013 @08:43AM (#44349927)

        It is distrust of medicine as a science - look at what people are faced with:
          - Doctors who wont prescribe birth controls, because of the doctors faith, not the patients.
          - Anyone with the title "Dr" (of what, from where) can appear on TV and flog the latest magic beans from the amazon as a cure for everything, unopposed.
          - Advertising for every 3 month cycle of trendy "natural/traditional/herbal/secret" cures also attacks pharmaceuticals as "unnatural chemicals"
          - Any a time a doctor screws up its a news worthy event
          - Everyone has a friend who went to a doctor (or doctors) that misdiagnosed something major (anecdotal: I know someone who saw 4 doctors before the last finally noticed the fist sized tumour growing a creeper up her spine).
          - All doctors are paid by drug companies to play golf, everyone knows that.

        Is it any wonder when something as scary as "MMR causes autism" hits the headlines, people take notice and don't ask their doctors. Everything in the media screams "don't trust doctors", why take the risk of autism, doctors have been wrong before?

        As a parent of ASD diagnosed twins it certainly crossed my mind did it start when they were immunised. Certainly it was a traumatic time and I felt their behaviour changed after, but no, the symptoms were there before but they just were not advanced enough for it to be obvious. It didn't help that doctors kept telling us "they are twins, they will develop late" (see!). My wife and I as two reasonably intelligent people, knowing the MMR link was debunked, still wanted to put off further immunisations - the fear was there, even though we knew it was not to blame. How can you blame other people with less discerning processing and intelligence to make better decisions with so much bad information.

        That said I really feel some parents want something to blame - "its not my genes, it was that evil MMR which was just a scam by doctors to sell drugs.". I looked for it when we got the news - something else was to blame, not us. I can imagine others do something similar.

    • by Salgak1 (20136)

      Not so much the medical community, as the educators. Science and math literacy is shockingly low and dropping. . .

      Multiple examples:

      Australia [experimentalmath.info]

      India [scidev.net]

      And the US [uncommondescent.com]

      Fear that science might upset some religious applecart or pop-culture shibboleth is the mind-killer. . . literally. . .

    • by bickerdyke (670000) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:58AM (#44349321)

      That's just the pendulum swinging back from "Doctors know everything!"

      And both is wrong.

      Nowadays, thanks to studies, doctors know exactly that treatment A has a 70% chance to cure illness X, while treatment B has a 95% chance to cure it, but also a 1% chance that the patient loses e.g. his eyesight due to possible sideeffects.

      That's pretty exact knowledge, but at the same time making the actual recommendation a bit of guesswork.

    • Psychiatric illnesses are fads to some degree. Years ago, women suffered from hysteresis and hypochondria. Currently, scads of perfectly normal people are diagnosed as autistic. This fad will eventually abate, to be replaced by something else.
    • by faedle (114018) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:51AM (#44350767) Homepage Journal

      There's a reason for the growing distrust of medicine.

      I generally trust my doctors. However, since they are human beings, they are as subject to confirmation bias as anyone else. Probably like more than a few people here ln /., I'm "obese" and have "metabolic syndrome." However, my cholesterol levels are where they should be, and historically always have.. even after 20 years of Type II diabetes.

      However, my doctor wants to test my cholesterol every six months (even though there's absolutely no diagnostic value in doing so). Why? The logical side of me wants to just chalk it up to that "confirmation bias": I MUST have high cholesterol because I fit the profile, so the last 10 years of good cholesterol numbers don't mean anything. Additionally, my work provides free yearly cholesterol screenings as part of our corporate wellness program.. so even when I provide those lab results to the clinician he still orders a cholesterol screening.

      The cynical side of me walks into the doctors office and sees freebies (pens, clipboards, etc.) advertising Lipitor and it's real hard to begin to wonder if the doctor works for me or the drug company. Somebody who's a bit more paranoid is going to see the correlation between all these cholesterol screenings and the statin drug freebies and go all Jenny McCarthy.

      I deal with it the same way every time. When I go to the lab to have the actual lab work done, I decline the cholesterol test, give them a photocopy of my most recent screening from work, and ask that they add it to my chart for me.

  • by haus (129916) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:12AM (#44348979) Homepage Journal

    large numbers of people follow the advice os someone who has no training, no proof, or even a decent grasp of cause and effect.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:31AM (#44349089)

      If you read about the back story here, you'll find that that's not at all what happened.

      What happened is that the government decided to move us from 3 separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines to one triple MMR vaccine. Shortly after that move a paper was published that claimed to find a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. That paper made big news, and caused parents to stop their children getting the MMR vaccine. Several papers were then published discrediting the original paper, and the government used this as a reason not to return to the (more expensive, and with more serious side effects) 3 separate vaccines. Unfortunately, by this point the bull had already escaped, and there was mass panic and rebellion against MMR vaccination.

      • Be honest. Andrew Wakefield committed scientific misconduct that led directly to these illnesses. The bastard should go on trial for manslaughter for everyone who dies.
      • by Sockatume (732728)

        The paper linked MMR to autistic gastrointestinal syndrome in 12 patients, not the development of autism. It was the head of the study who made the link to autism itself, via a press conference; he was being paid to consult on cases making that claim at the time. It wasn't necessary to discredit the original paper because even it didn't support the claim he was pushing.

        Just for clarification MMR was introduced about a decade (late '80s) before any of this happened. It wasn't a new vaccine by any means.

  • by puddingebola (2036796) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:14AM (#44348991) Journal
    Are diptheria, whooping cough, and polio. You can terrorize people with media stories. People will take actions that are irrational in the face of an immediate threat. We seem to be unable to weigh the costs and benefits rationally of a course of action.
  • by korbulon (2792438) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:14AM (#44348993)

    Why wasn't Jesus born in Wales?

    Because God couldn't find three wise men and a virgin.

    "I keed! I KEEED!"

  • by sjbe (173966) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:18AM (#44349011)

    One of the infected was Ms. Jenkins, whose grandmother, her guardian, hadn't vaccinated her as a young child. "I was afraid of the autism," says the grandmother, Margaret Mugford, 63 years old. "It was in all the papers and on TV."'"

    So she didn't listen to her physician. Sigh...

    I'm of a mind that people like this should be charged with child abuse, regardless of their intentions. They are putting not only their own child at risk but other children as well. The science on this topic is unequivocal. Vaccines demonstrably save lives and not getting them demonstrably costs lives. Children who do not get the vaccines (without a documented medical needs exemption) should not be permitted to go to school or participate in activities with other children. Parents who do not vaccinate their children (again without a medical needs exemption) should have to explain to a court why they think they are entitled to put their child and others at risk of some very serious diseases. Yes I'm being harsh and yes I think it is appropriate the the magnitude of the problem. A vague fear of autism which is not based on credible scientific research is not sufficient grounds to not get vaccinated.

  • by RudyF (1546401) on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:59AM (#44349333)
    I know as a fact there was a "before" and an "after" in the life of our son -- he was an apt big baby till he was 26 monthes. Then he got this compulsory vaccination (we're French) and he was 'elsewhere' for a few days. To make it short, my son is now 8.5 years old and he's a non verbal autist.
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      So your son was completely verbal and socially proficient before he was 2 years old?

    • There was a before an after moment in my life, too. I had perfect vision until in 7th grade when suddenly everything started getting blurry. It kept getting worse. I got glasses in high school and I continued to need stronger and stronger prescriptions. It happened when I hit puberty so suddenly it sounded like that silly old legend that "masturbation will make you go blind" was true. As it turns out, vision problems tend to occur in males when they hit puberty. It had nothing to do with my "me" time.

      Correlation does not prove causation. By the way, I had all my vaccinations as a baby. I don't have autism. Same with my brother, and every other kid in my school.

  • That pre 1963 Polio vaccine was contaminated with SV40 virus? CDC soon yanked the warning, and it only exists now on the Internet Archive. http://web.archive.org/web/20130522091608/http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/updates/archive/polio_and_cancer_factsheet.htm [archive.org]

    Given that vaccines Drs want to give to kids have increased 3x since 1980, and many are for non-lethal diseases like rotavirus or for things like Hep B that a baby is highly unlikely to contract, and given that drug production is imperfect, I think many parents have legitimate concerns and being ordered to unquestionably follow their known-to-be-imperfect doctor's advice feed the backlash against vaccines.

    Dr. Sears has good information for parents who want to take an informed, balanced approach:

    http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/vaccines [askdrsears.com]
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday July 22, 2013 @08:07AM (#44349435)
    1. Measles notifications and deaths in England and Wales, 1940-2008 [hpa.org.uk]

    2. Annual measles notifications and vaccine coverage, England and Wales 1950-2009 [hpa.org.uk]

    3. Confirmed cases of Measles, Mumps and Rubella 1996-2012 [hpa.org.uk]

    #2 is the most interesting, in conjunction with #1. #2 clearly shows the decline in vaccine coverage starting in 1998, the year Wakefield's paper came out in the Lancet. Coverage dropped from 1998 to about 2002, then started climbing again before plateauing in 2004 at a level approximately equal to the coverage rate in 1990. However, #1 shows that the number of reported cases of measles from 2004-2008 was markedly less than in the 1990 time-frame. That's strange. If the coverage level is the same, why would there be 2-3x fewer cases in 2004-2008 when compared to 1990?

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