Sunday, January 15, 2012

Preventable Outbreaks and the Lasting Effects of a Flawed Study

As of October 14th of 2011, the Center for Disease Control was dealing with 214 measles cases, a 356% increase from the average 60-70 annual cases. What was most troubling about this statistic is that 86% of the 214 cases were attributed to individuals who were unvaccinated. This rise in cases also marks the largest outbreak of measles in the United States in the last 15 years.

This rise is often attributed to the falsely cited MMRV-autism correlation. Not to mention, the importation of diseases is also a key propagator of pandemics.

In Minnesota, 21 incidents of measles cases were reported with14 of these leading to hospitalizations. Patient zero in this case was a two year old toddler who traveled to Kenya and spread the disease in a child care center.

Utah experienced a similar scenario- in this case, an outbreak involving nine individuals occurred following an unvaccinated high school student's return from Europe. This outbreak was controlled by the Utah Department of Health at a hefty cost. It took $300,000 to cover infection control and examinations- approximately $33,000 for every individual that tested positive for measles. 12,000 individuals were contacted regarding possible exposure and 184 were quarantined. Of the 9 cases that tested positive, two thirds were unvaccinated claiming personal exemptions.

The United States is not the only nation experiencing rises in measles outbreaks- last year, Quebec, Canada experienced the largest outbreak in 22 years with a total of 757 cases as of the 5th of October. Europe experienced over 26,000 identified measles cases in 36 countries- also attributed to a decrease in the use and prevalence of the MMRV vaccine because of the Wakefield theory linking autism and the vaccination. These lasting effects from the flawed study should emphasize the importance of review panels and the ways in which findings are interpreted by the general public.

-Angela CeseƱa

References:, the U.S. National Library of Medicine has more information on measles.

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