Saturday, February 16, 2013

Measles: A rash of misinformation

Measles: A rash of misinformation
Feb 14, 2013 | Green Med Info | Dr. Tyson Perez

With the recent release of a provocative children's book entitled Melanie's Marvelous Measles, a debate has ensued regarding the effectiveness and wisdom surrounding measles vaccinations. When I first heard about the book, I went to Amazon to order a copy for myself. The amount of negative reviews was staggering. People were claiming that the information was "dangerous", "harmful" and "ill-informed". Some were even calling for the book to be banned. It took me a few minutes to read it from cover to cover. Rather than critique the book, which has already been done quite eloquently by others, I would like to talk about the widespread fear surrounding measles and the misinformation regarding the vaccine.

References to measles can be found as far back as the 7th century.[1] Measles is an RNA virus that was first isolated in 1954. A typical infection produces a characteristic skin rash starting at the head and progressing down the trunk and extremities. The rash is typically preceded by a high fever. Around this time, blue-white spots (Koplik spots) can be found on the mucous membranes. These are considered pathognomonic for measles. Other symptoms may include cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, anorexia and lymphadenopathy.

According to the CDC, prior to the introduction of the vaccine, measles was a nearly universal infection occurring most commonly in 5-9 year olds with 90% of U.S. children immune by age 15. Most kids recovered fully within a few weeks with life-long immunity. Reported complications from data collected between 1985-1992 included pneumonia (6%), encephalitis (.1%), seizures (.6-.7%), and death (.2%). These occurred most frequently in children under 5 and adults over 20. These complications may, in fact, have been exacerbated by allopathic interventions to treat common symptoms such as fever reduction using antipyretics.[15,16]

Many people are aware that the first licensed live-virus vaccine was introduced in 1963 (Edmonston B strain) but few know that there was also a kill measles vaccine (KMV) licensed that same year.[1] That vaccine was pulled in 1967, however, after it was discovered that individuals who received the KMV and were subsequently exposed to the wild virus were afflicted with a more severe atypical form of measles. Today's vaccine, known as MMR, contains attenuated, live-measles virus (Edmonston-Enders strain) mixed together with mumps and rubella virus. There is an alternate version of the vaccine, known as MMRV, that combines MMR with the varicella virus. The measles virus is cultured on chick embryo fibroblast tissue and the vaccine contains human albumin, neomycin, sorbitol and gelatin. The 2013 CDC recommendations include 2 doses of MMR, the first at 12-15 months and the second at 4-6 years.

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