Epidemic of Measles: Consequence of Bad Decisions, Fear, and Erroneous Information

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Dr. Marta Katalenas of the Pediatric Center of Round Rock contends that the recent increase in measles cases is a result of decisions made 15 years ago, based on bad information, fear, and the desire for notoriety.

Recently The Wall Street Journal reported on an epidemic of measles affecting children in the United Kingdom and on an outbreak close to home at a church in Texas.

From November 2012 to July 2013 there has been 1,219 cases of measles in southwest Wales, as compared to only 105 cases the year before. About 10% of affected patients were admitted to the hospital with complications such as dehydration and pneumonia. A 25-year-old died.

In August, 21 children and adults from the Eagle Mountain International Church, 30 miles north of Fort Worth, contracted measles. The church’s Senior Pastor had expressed a concern that the MMR immunizations were causing autism and so many children who were home-schooled or in the church’s daycare did not receive the standard vaccinations required by Texas public schools and day care centers.

Dr. Katalenas of the Pediatric Center of Round Rock explains how this new measles epidemic began even though there has been an effective vaccine since 1960. “It all began in 1998 when a group of doctors published an article that suggested a relationship between the MMR vaccine and an increasing incidence of autism,” explains Dr. Katalenas.

According to the study led by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, when administered in combination, could cause neurological deficits such as autism. The press echoed these fears and soon other media outlets published opinions from many sources, even those with no medical training such as the actress and current co-host of The View, Jenny McCarthy.

Fifteen years later, Dr. Katalenas says, “We are now seeing the consequences of those decision and, of course, nobody is taking responsibility for promoting erroneous information, which fueled parent’s objections to life-saving vaccines for their children”.

Measles is an infectious disease, very contagious, caused by a virus. It produces symptoms of fever, cough and a rash. The majority of patients recover without consequences, but others suffer pneumonia and even death, with an incidence of 1 in 1,000 cases.

Dr. Katalenas says she understands that parents today have a difficult task when making decisions for their children. “The best source of information is always a panel of experts, rather than individual opinions or anecdotal cases,” say Dr. Katalenas. “If a parent wants more information about MMR, autism or any other diseases affecting children, I always encourage them to consult the American Academy of Pediatrics for the most complete and up-to-date information.”

If a child is not current on their immunizations Dr. Katalenas urges parents to make an appointment immediately. “Please do not gamble with your child’s health or those around you who may have weakened immune systems.”

About Dr. Katalenas
Dr. Marta Katalenas is a Board Certified Pediatrician and owner of the Pediatric Center of Round Rock located in Round Rock, Texas. Dr. Katalenas is a professional speaker and is available to speak on childhood obesity and healthy eating topics. She is also the author of The Step Up Diet, From Scratch... The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity.

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