Like a bad rash

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

First, it was bad sci­ence, then it was bad choices - and now, the measles, an old scourge, is com­ing back with a new threat. Measles was al­most erad­i­cated by im­mu­niza­tion, but has been com­ing back since anti-vac­ci­na­tion groups fo­cused on now-dis­cred­ited sci­en­tific claims.

The fact that the claims have been dis­cred­ited doesn’t mean the fear mon­ger­ing and mis­in­for­ma­tion have stopped - there’s even one can­di­date for U.S. pres­i­dent, Don­ald Trump, whose char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion has do­nated money to anti-vac­cine cam­paigns.

Now that measles has a foothold again, it means there are enough cases out there that ba­bies too young to be vac­ci­nated can be ex­posed to the dis­ease.

Not only is measles a hor­ri­ble sick­ness to suf­fer through, it can also kill. One in 20 chil­dren in­fected de­vel­ops pneu­mo­nia, and one in 1,000 suf­fers from en­cephali­tis, which car­ries the dan­ger of deaf­ness or in­tel­lec­tual deficits.

All be­cause of a re­fusal by some par­ents to have their chil­dren re­ceive the two shots of the mumps, measles and rubella vac­cine (MMR).

That re­fusal has seen the num­ber of cases of measles in the U.S. rise to more than 660, the largest num­ber since wide­spread in­oc­u­la­tion be­gan in that coun­try.

Now, though, the stakes may have got­ten a lit­tle bit higher.

It seems hav­ing a child who de­vel­ops measles may also put them in line for a fa­tal post-measles com­pli­ca­tion.

Re­searchers have found that peo­ple who get the measles as an in­fant or child have a much higher chance of later de­vel­op­ing the of­ten-fa­tal sub­a­cute scle­ros­ing pa­nen­cephali­tis (SSPE), a pro­gres­sive brain in­flam­ma­tion. The measles virus - or a mu­tated ver­sion of it - re­mains in tis­sue and comes back with a vengeance.

The new re­search is sober­ing: the gen­eral sci­en­tific un­der­stand­ing is that one per­son in 100,000 de­vel­ops SSPE, a neu­ro­log­i­cal com­pli­ca­tion that can re­main dor­mant for long pe­ri­ods of time. Once it de­vel­ops, how­ever, ex­cept for the ear­li­est of treat­ments, which may help man­age the disor­der, pa­tients usu­ally die within three years.

Re­mem­ber that one in 100,000 num­ber? It looked for a while like your chances of get­ting SSPE was one in 1,700 if you’d had measles as a child. And now, an even more re­cent study in­di­cates that num­ber is as low as one out of ev­ery 609 peo­ple.

There were al­ready more than enough rea­sons to have your chil­dren in­oc­u­lated. Would you de­cide to have your child skip that MMR in­oc­u­la­tion, based on dodgy sci­ence and In­ter­net searches?

Have you con­sid­ered that tak­ing a risk with your chil­dren - and with oth­ers too young to be vac­ci­nated - might in fact doom them to a hor­ri­ble fate?

The risks you are tak­ing are not only risks for your own chil­dren - and po­ten­tially fa­tal risks at that. There are risks - long-run­ning risks - for other mem­bers of the pop­u­la­tion as well.

This ed­i­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in The Tele­gram

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.