Monday, May 20, 2013

Measles surge in Britain years after vaccine/autism scare

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 U.K. has had more than 1,200 cases of measles, after a record number of nearly 2,000
cases last year. The country once recorded only several dozen cases every year. It now ranks second in Europe, behind only Romania.

Last month, emergency vaccination clinics were held every weekend in Wales, the epicenter of the outbreak. Immunization drives have also started elsewhere in the country, with officials aiming 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.

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