By Magda Taylor, editor of The Informed Parent. April 2013
We are now experiencing yet another outbreak of measles and MMR propaganda via the media, resulting in a lot of parents becoming fearful and worried as to whether they should allow their children to receive the MMR.
In all the years I have been looking into the subject I have observed so many of these measles scares – they seem to be more regular than the measles outbreaks themselves.
It is extremely difficult to get any balanced information out in the public arena and the radio and TV coverages are almost all very biased. For example, on Tuesday 9th April I was invited to participate in a morning programme for BBC RadioScotland as one of the guests. This turned out to be a most frustrating experience as apart from a short intro earlier in the programme I had to sit through around half an hour’s worth of discussion without being able to contribute. The doctor and bacteriologist that had also been invited on were given the opportunity to respond to the various callers on the programme whilst I was left on the line not being able to give an alternative comment. Finally, right at the end of the slot I was suddenly invited to speak again. Knowing that I was going to be cut off at any time I attempted to try and make as many points as I could, which is not ideal as there was not enough time to give proper explanation. This is typical of how most of these programmes are broadcast these days, in fact, it more common now not to invite any guests that will be challenging the present established views. Back in the 1990s The Informed Parent, JABS and other vaccination researchers were given much more opportunity to get involved with some healthy discussion on the subject. This is certainly not the case these days.
Measles is being described in such a scary way at the moment it is no wonder parents are running scared.
Here is an example of how measles was described back in 1959, nine years before a measles vaccine was introduced in theUK. I have also taken extracts from a few doctors describing their experiences of measles at that time. This paints a very, very different picture of the disease compared to the ones we are being given at the moment. I have highlighted some of the more significant comments in bold type.
Taken from: BMJ, Feb 7 1959, page 354
In the first three weeks of this year about 41,000 cases of measles were recorded inEnglandandWales. This is well above the corresponding figures of the last two years-namely, about 9,000 in 1958 and 28,000 in 1957 -though it is below the highest levels reached in the last nine years. To give some idea of the main features of the disease as it appears to-day and of how it is best treated, we invited some general practitioners to write short reports on the cases they have seen in their practices recently.
These appear at p.380 (extracts from this page follow this article). It is interesting to note, first, that the distribution of the disease is rather patchy at present. It has not yet reached the areas where two of these doctors practise (in South Scotland andCornwall), and other areas are known to be free of the disease so far. On the other hand, inKentit is reported to have arrived in time to put the children to bed over Christmas. These writers agree that measles is nowadays normally a mild infection, and they rarely have occasion to give prophylactic gamma globulin. As to the treatment of the disease and its complications, the emphasis naturally varies from one practice to another. Amount of bed-rest, when to administer a sulphonamide or antibiotic, the use of analgesics and linctuses-all these may still be debatable problems in the treatment of what is said to be the commonest disease in the world. But there is probably much in the opinion which one of the writers expresses: “It is the frequent visiting by the interested clinician and not the therapy which produces the good results.”
REPORTS FROM GENERAL PRACTITIONERS
BMJ February 7 1959, Page 380
We are much indebted to the general practitioners whose names appear below for the following notes on the present outbreak of measles.
Dr G. R. WATSON (Peaslake,Surrey) writes: Measles was introduced just before Christmas by a child from Petworth…….Treatment of Attack.-No drugs are given for either the fever or the cough; if pressed, I dispense mist. salin. B.N.F. as a placebo. Glutethimide 125 mg. may be given in the afternoon if the child is restless when the rash develops; 250 mg. in single or divided doses at bedtime ensures a good night’s sleep in spite of coughing. I encourage a warm humid atmosphere in the room by various methods: some electric fires and most electric toasters allow an open pan of water to rest on top; an electric kettle blows off too much steam to be kept on for more than short periods. Parents, conscious of the need to darken the room and to forbid reading, may carry this to an unnecessary extreme, starting even before the rash appears. To save a mother some demands, the wireless is a boon to children in darkened rooms. They are allowed up when the rash fades from the abdomen-usually the fourth or fifth day-and may go outside on the next fine day. Apart from fruit to eat.solid food is avoided on the day the rash is appearing; fruit drinks or soups are all they appear to want. Complications.-So far few complications have arisen. Four cases of otitis media occurred in the first 25 children, but only one had pain. No case of pneumonia has occurred, but one child had grossly abnormal signs in the chest for a few days after the fever subsided, uninfluenced by oral penicillin. One girl had a tear-duct infection and another an undue blepharitis. Of three adult males with the disease, two have been more severely affected than any of the children.Dr. R. E. HOPE STMPSON (Cirencester, Glos) writes: We make no attempt to prevent the spread of measles, and would only use gamma globulin to mitigate the severity of the disease in the case of the exposure of a susceptible adult or child who is already severely debilitated. Bed rest, for seven davs for moderate and severe cases and of five to six days in mild cases, seems to cut down the incidence of such complications as secondary bacterial otitis media and bronchopneumonia. We have not been impressed by the prophylactic or therapeutic use of antibiotics and sulphonamides in the first week of the disease. As soon as the patient is out of bed we allow him out of doors almost regardless of the weather. Otitis Media and Bronchopneumonia.-These conditions often appear so early, sometimes even before the rash, that in such cases one can only conclude that the responsible agent is the virus itself. Despite their initial alarming severity, they tend to resolve spontaneously, and treatment apart from first principles seems useless. When, on the other hand, otitis media or bronchopneumonia comes on after the subsidence of the initial symptoms of measles, it is probably due to a secondary bacterial invader, and we find antibiotics or sulphonamides useful…..
Dr. JOHN FRY (Beckenham,Kent) writes: The expected biennial epidemic of measles appeared in this region in early December, 1958, just in time to put many youngsters to bed over Christmas. To date there have been close on 150 cases in the practice, and the numbers are now steadily decreasing. Like previous epidemics, the primary cases have been chiefly in the 5- and 6-year-olds, with secondary cases in their younger siblings. No special features have been noted in this relatively mild epidemic. It has been mild because complications have occurred in only four children. One little girl aged 2 suffered from a lobular pneumonia, and three others developed acute otitis media following their measles. In the majority of children the whole episode has been well and truly over in a week, from the prodromal phase to the disappearance of the rash, and many mothers have remarked ” how much good the attack has done their children,” as they seem so much better after the measles. A family doctor’s approach to the management of measles is essentially a personal and individual matter, based on the personal experiences of the doctor and the individual character and background of the child and the family. In this practice measles is considered as a relatively mild and inevitable childhood ailment that is best encountered any time from 3 to 7 years of age. Over the past 10 years there have been few serious complications at any age, and all children have made complete recoveries. As a result of this reasoning no special attempts have been made at prevention even in young infants in whom the disease has not been found to be especially serious.