Wednesday, August 27, 2014   

Measles epidemic in Wales scares thousands of mothers and puts children in peril
(05-20 18:11)

More than a decade ago, British parents refused to give measles shots to at least a million children because of a vaccine scare that raised the specter of autism. Now, health officials are scrambling to catch up and stop a growing epidemic of the contagious disease.
This year, the UK has had more than 1,200 cases of measles, after a record number of nearly 2,000 cases last year, AP’s Maria Cheng reports.
Last month, emergency vaccination clinics were held every weekend in Wales, the epicenter of the outbreak. Immunization drives aims to reach 1 million children aged 10 to 16.
“This is the legacy of the Wakefield scare,'' said Dr David Elliman, spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, referring to a paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues. That work suggested a link between autism and the combined childhood vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, called the MMR. Several large scientific studies failed to find any connection, the theory was rejected by at least a dozen major UK medical groups and the paper was eventually retracted by the journal that published it.
Still, MMR immunization rates plummeted across the UK as fearful parents abandoned the vaccine _ from rates over 90 percent to 54 percent.
Nearly 15 years later, the rumors about MMR are still having an impact. Now there's “this group of older children who have never been immunized who are a large pool of infections,'' Elliman said.
The majority of those getting sick in the UK _ including a significant number of older children and teens _ had never been vaccinated. Almost 20 of the more than 100 seriously ill children have been hospitalized and 15 have suffered complications including pneumonia and meningitis. One adult with measles has died, though it's unclear if it was the disease that killed him.
The first measles vaccines were introduced in the 1960s, which dramatically cut cases of the rash-causing illness. Since 2001, measles deaths have dropped by about 70 percent worldwide; Cambodia recently marked more than a year without a single case.
Globally, though, measles is still one of the leading causes of death in children under 5 and kills more than 150,000 people every year, mostly in developing countries. Measles is highly contagious and is spread by coughing, sneezing and close personal contact with infected people; symptoms include a fever, cough, and a rash on the face.
Across the UK, about 90 percent of children under 5 are vaccinated against measles and have received the necessary two doses of the vaccine. But among children now aged 10 to 16, the vaccination rate is slightly below 50 percent in some regions.
To stop measles outbreaks, more than 95 percent of children need to be fully immunized. In some parts of the UK, the rate is still below 80 percent.
Portia Ncube, a health worker at an East London clinic, said the struggle to convince parents to get the MMR shot is being helped by the measles epidemic in Wales.
“They see what's happening in Wales so some of them are now sensible enough to come in and get their children vaccinated,'' she said.
Clinic patient Ellen Christensen (pictured), mother of an infant son, acknowledged she had previously had some “irrational qualms'' about the MMR vaccine.
“But after reading more about it, I know now that immunization is not only good for your own child, it's good for everyone,'' she said.
   
Other World breaking news:
Kiev reports movement of tanks, heavy weapons from Russia (14 mins ago)
IMF chief Lagarde charged over French corruption case (1 hr 17 mins ago)
Iraq strikes jihadists as fears grow for thousands in besieged town (1 hr 45 mins ago)
Russia to send aid to Ukraine with Red Cross: Putin spokesman (2 hrs 52 mins ago)
Japan PM sent prayer note to war criminal ceremony (08-27 15:32)
Journalist held captive in Syria returns to US (08-27 14:21)
UN arm to launch airline info system (08-27 12:50)
American woman is being held hostage in Syria (08-27 12:38)
Japan lab fails to replicate 'stem cell' findings: report (08-27 12:21)
NKorea calls US 'human rights graveyard' over Ferguson (08-27 12:19)

More breaking news >>

© 2014 The Standard, The Standard Newspapers Publishing Ltd.
Contact Us | About Us | Newsfeeds | Subscriptions | Print Ad. | Online Ad. | Street Pts

 


Home | Top News | Local | Business | China | ViewPoint | CityTalk | World | Sports | People | Central Station | Spree | Features

The Standard

Trademark and Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014, The Standard Newspaper Publishing Ltd., and its related entities. All rights reserved.  Use in whole or part of this site's content is prohibited.   Use of this Web site assumes acceptance of the
Terms of Use, Privacy Policy Statement and Copyright Policy.  Please also read our Ethics Statement.