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Health

The Anti-Vax Apocalypse Will Be Televised: Measles Spike in Europe

Reality BaseBy Melissa LafskyJanuary 8, 2009 4:35 AM

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How many times do we have to say it? At least once more, apparently: The anti-vaxer movement is wrong, it's dangerous, and it's having major effects on public health. Like this one: More than 12,000 cases of measles, around four-fifths of which were in unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated children, surfaced in Europe in the two-year period from 2006 through 2007, with an additional 6,000 infections reported in the first three quarters of 2008. These results come from a study published in the upcoming issue of The Lancet, and were written up by Mark Muscat of Copenhagen's Statens Serum Institut. The study includes data from 32 countries, though 85 percent of the cases were in Romania, Germany, the U.K., Switzerland, and Italy—all of which have vaccination rates below 90 percent, well below the World Health Organization’s 95 percent recommendation. So here it is, a highly-contagious and also highly-preventable disease making its way into children because their parents saw some study or read some pamphlet filled with inaccurate and scientifically disproved information. To make matters worse, there's also the class problem that anti-vaxers are causing: People in wealthy countries (like the U.S. and U.K.) refuse to vaccinate, and then transport their diseases to poorer countries—a phenomenon noted by Jacques Kremer and Claude Muller of the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella:

The more pressing question is how much measles does Europe export to countries with poor health systems and high fatality rates. Importations of measles virus from Europe have already triggered several outbreaks in South America... Rich countries need to be responsible for avoiding cases by implementation of high vaccination coverage, to make it the privilege of resource-poor countries not to worry about reintroductions from Europe.

Related: RB: While the Anti-Vax Movement Strengthens, Their Arguments Only Get Weaker RB: And So It Begins: U.S. Sees Big Measles Spike in Unvaccinated Kids RB: Autism and Vaccinations: A Celebrity Smackdown BadAstronomy: Countering antivaxxers

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