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The Sciences

UK in trouble? Measles, antivax garbage on the rise

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitFebruary 6, 2009 11:22 PM

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More bad news from the UK: Measles cases rose 36% in 2008 over the previous year, from 990 to 1348.

Health Protection Agency experts said most of the cases had been in children not fully vaccinated with combined MMR and so could have been prevented. Immunisation expert Dr Mary Ramsay said the rise was "very worrying", adding measles "should not be taken lightly".

No, it shouldn't, given that it can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis. This news comes on the heels of an antivax diatribe by "journalist" Jeni Barnett on LBC radio in England. Science advocate Ben Goldacre, who writes Bad Science, takes her to task here and here. Continuing on with irrationality: LBC lawyers told Ben to take down the clip of her irrational spewings. Of course, that's their right; he posted all of it, so they have a copyright claim. However, doing something as dumb as that just means people will take all the more glee to get the word out there, as I'm doing now. And, of course, it's still all over the web. It's on YouTube thanks to Rachel Dunlop, for example. A series of skeptics have posted transcripts of it, too, so you can read what Ms. Barnett said. You really have to read it for yourself to see the level of nonsense on display, like this:

I want to know from some kind of expert what measles is and what is in the vaccine, and why people have a reaction to it, and really my question is: what is wrong with childhood illnesses? Is it - to hark back to the first hour - because we don't have parents at home looking after the children? What's going on? Is there something wrong with having mumps...

So she doesn't know what measles is, or what's in the vaccine, or what's wrong with childhood illnesses, or what's the problem with mumps... but she goes on the radio railing against vaccination? What mad world? I'm sorry that antivax crackpots are not restricted to only the US. But if you run across one, send 'em here, send 'em to Orac (who has written about Ben's post as well), send 'em to Ben. We'll win this yet.

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