Over 34,000 cases of measles in last two months in Eastern Europe

❝ More than 34,000 people across Europe caught measles in the first two months of 2019, with the vast majority of cases in Ukraine, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday as it urged authorities to ensure vulnerable people get vaccinated.

❝ The death toll among 34,300 cases reported across 42 countries in the WHO’s European region reached 13, with the virus killing people in Ukraine – which is suffering a measles epidemic – as well as in Romania and Albania. The risk is that outbreaks may continue to spread, the WHO warned.

❝ Measles is a highly contagious disease that can kill and cause blindness, deafness or brain damage. It can be prevented with two doses of an effective vaccine, but – in part due to pockets of unvaccinated people – it is currently spreading in outbreaks in many parts of the world including in the United States, the Philippines and Thailand…

There is no specific antiviral treatment for measles, and vaccination is the only way to prevent it, the WHO said. Most cases are in unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people.

And if the anti-vaxxers get their political way, we will return to the days of my childhood. Every spring my fellow students would gather in the schoolyard first warm day – look around to see who died or was unable to resume school from one or another disease.

And then we waited for polio in the summer.

Review confirms few health problems ever caused by vaccines

The “traditional” alternative

An analysis of more than 1,000 research articles concluded that few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines. A committee of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine to review the scientific literature on possible adverse effects of vaccines found convincing evidence of 14 health outcomes — including seizures, inflammation of the brain, and fainting — that can be caused by certain vaccines, although these outcomes occur rarely. It also found indicative though less clear data on associations between specific vaccines and four other effects, such as allergic reactions and temporary joint pain. In addition, the evidence shows there are no links between immunization and some serious conditions that have raised concerns, including Type 1 diabetes and autism…

The majority of these problems have occurred in individuals with immunodeficiencies, which increase individuals’ susceptibility to the live viruses used in MMR and varicella. Six vaccines — MMR, varicella, influenza, hepatitis B, meningococcal, and the tetanus-containing vaccines — can trigger anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that appears shortly after injection. And, in general, the injection of vaccines can trigger fainting and inflammation of the shoulder, the committee noted.

The evidence suggests that certain vaccines can lead to four other adverse effects, although the data on these links are not as convincing, the report says. The MMR vaccine appears to trigger short-term joint pain in some women and children. Some people can experience anaphylaxis after receiving the HPV vaccine…

The committee’s review also concluded that certain vaccines are not linked to four specific conditions. The MMR vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP) do not cause Type 1 diabetes, and the MMR vaccine does not cause autism, according to the results of several studies. The evidence shows that the flu shot does not cause Bell’s palsy or exacerbate asthma. Suggestions that vaccines can lead to these serious health problems have contributed to parental concerns about immunization for their children.

Establishing a cause-and-effect relationship between an agent and a health outcome requires solid evidence. The committee’s conclusions are based on the strengths and weaknesses of several types of evidence, including biological, clinical, and epidemiological research. In many cases of suggested vaccine-related adverse outcomes, there is too little evidence, or the available evidence offers conflicting results or is otherwise inadequate to draw conclusions…

Which won’t mean much to those suffering from the most notable American disease – irrational, spooky conspiracy theories relying on gossip for decision-making.

Computational analysis comes to the aid of modern medicine once again. I know it won’t touch the fears of the conspiracy crowd – but, it’s a delight to have a sufficient level of readily-available computing horsepower at hand nowadays to throw at a task like this one.

Parents who don’t vaccinate kids make us all sick

Young parents in America are holy and not to be messed with. If they say something is correct, we all acquiesce. And is there any man, woman or canine who doesn’t leap out of the way when one of those giant, all-terrain Bugaboo strollers comes barreling down the sidewalk..?

Yet there’s one smug subgroup whose sense of entitlement endangers the rest. No, not poor Medicaid moms or Social Security grannies. The treacherous group is those parents, predominately those of some financial means, who refuse to vaccinate their children…

General worry became specific controversy in 1998, when the Lancet, a respected medical journal, published a paper by U.K. physician Andrew Wakefield and others saying that the standard vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella might cause autism. Later studies couldn’t confirm Wakefield’s findings, and the Lancet retracted the paper in 2010.

More recently, Wakefield has been barred from practice because of his phonied study.

Yet many parents still won’t vaccinate their kids. Some people in the U.S. have made an avocation of trying to secure a so-called personal belief waiver to allow their children to attend school without vaccines. Parents of autistic youngsters turned to the courts to blame drugmakers…

An unvaccinated boy from New York contracted mumps while in the U.K., then traveled home and attended summer camp. Within six months, hundreds of cases of mumps were counted, including some that led to pancreatitis, deafness and meningitis, Dr. Paul Offit wrote. A child in Minnesota died of Haemophilus B influenza after his parents opposed vaccinations. In January 2008, an unvaccinated child flew home to San Diego following a trip to Switzerland, and gave the gift of measles to dozens of others, including three children in a doctor’s waiting room.

Marin County, known for the fitness of its citizens, endured 15 percent of California’s whooping cough cases in 2010, even though it accounts for less than 1 percent of the state’s population. Ten children died, none of whom had been vaccinated…

Crowdsourcing medical care is about the dumbest thing parents can do. Relying on word-of-mouth myth and conspiracy theories is worse. People who endanger their kids – end up endangering everyone else.

The Web is an amazing tool for accumulating information. Try to remember that some of that information is crap. Science rarely has overnight revelations. It takes years of peer-reviewed publication and – more important – debate and more testing within those peer circles to move discovery forward.