MEASLES ARE MAKING A COMEBACK...HERE’S WHY.
What do a former Playboy Bunny and the President of the United States have in common? They both blame the Measle Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine on giving their children autism. Not exactly the answer you were expecting, right? But since Dr Andrew Wakefield published his study, linking the administration of the MMR to the appearance of autism and bowel disease, worried parents have been opting out of immunisation programmes, allowing measles to stage a quiet comeback, with ten confirmed cases in Limerick since January and one in Dublin.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus which usually results in a high fever and rash. It can also lead to blindness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or death. In an ideal universe, Ireland would have established a ‘herd immunity’ following years of childhood immunisation programmes but to fully eradicate measles, the vaccine must reach 95% of the target population and it currently stands at 87%.
Dr Wakefield’s research began to raise concerns in the UK during the late 90’s, after The General Medical Council launched a lengthy investigation into his findings. No other scientists were able to reproduce his results - vital to prove his research - and he was eventually found guilty of serious professional misconduct and unethical behaviour in relation to the tests he carried out on children. He was removed from the medical register in 2010. Unfortunately, by then, he had already amassed a number of celebrity fans in the U.S. including Jenny McCarthy, the former playboy model, who claimed her son’s autism was caused by the vaccine (his diagnosis was later changed to Landau-Kleffner syndrome which is often misdiagnosed as autism in younger children) and President Donald Trump, who once tweeted “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!” The verdict was too late, the rumour mill had already cemented fiction into fact.
Over the past 30 years, more than 500 million doses of the MMR vaccine have been given in over 90 countries, preventing the spread of measles, mumps and rubella. Experts from around the world, agree there is no link between the vaccine and autism or inflammatory bowel disease. Autism Speaks (2015), the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organisation also stated:
“Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated”.
The HSE recommends two doses of MMR:
The first dose to babies at 12 months.
The second to children from 4-5 years of age. (This is usually given at school by the HSE’s school immunisation teams but in some areas it is given by your GP.)
Older children and young adults who have not completed the recommended course (or are not sure) should be vaccinated as soon as possible, as this may be causing the recent outbreak.
If you think you may have come in contact with the virus, symptoms usually manifest around ten days after the initial infection. Signs to look out for include:
Tiny greyish-white spots in the mouth and throat.
A red-brown spotty rash. (Spots usually start behind the ear, spreading around the head and neck before reaching the legs and rest of the body. Initially small, they quickly get bigger and can often join together.)
Red eyes and sensitivity to light.
Cold-like symptoms including a mild or severe temperature, tiredness, aches and pains, irritability and a general lack of energy.
This winter we’ve already had unscheduled days off for storms, snow-in’s, ear infections, coughs and sore throats. For your own sanity Jinga’s, make sure your child’s vaccines are up to date. With fourteen school-free days of Easter Holidays just around the corner, we can’t risk having them at home for one more day! Seriously though, if you or your child experience any of the above, phone your GP immediately. From one Jinga Mom to another, mind yourselves. x