Sunday, April 04, 2010

Measles outbreak in German caused by anti-vaccinationists

In the first months of 2010 there has been a measles outbreak in Berlin, Germany.

According to this Eurosurveillance preliminary report there has been 62 cases as of the end of March. This is more than the entire number of cases in 2006 (57) which until now had been the year with the highest number of cases in recent years.

So, what caused this drastic increase? You guessed it - anti-vaxxers. Yes, the outbreak is among unvaccinated children.

The first case was diagnosed January 5th, and was in an unvaccinated child returning from a trip to India, where measles are endemic (what the hell were the parents thinking?). The first case is a pupil at a private school - a Waldorf-Schule, which is a Rudolf Steiner school, and thus unsurprisingly have many parents who are against sensible things such as vaccinations. According the preliminary report, the proportion of students vaccinated against measles is "significantly below 70%".

One of the talking points among anti-vaxxers is that more children with vaccinations get sick from measles than children without vaccinations (which of course is pure nonsense, given the fact that a much larger proportion of non-vaccinated children get sick). Well, in this outbreak "[n]one of the reported cases had been vaccinated against measles before being exposed during this outbreak". In other words, every single case was an unvaccinated child.

In order to stop the spread of the disease, the District Health Offices took some drastic steps:

* Temporary exclusion of students and teachers without measles vaccination or naturally acquired immunity from schools with confirmed measles cases;
* Offering measles vaccination for unvaccinated students and teachers in affected schools (vaccinations in collaboration with private practitioners);
* Equivalent measures in kindergartens with measles cases;
* Active detection of contacts and exposed persons;
* Sampling of clinical material from measles patients to confirm diagnosis and perform genotyping at the National Reference Centre for Measles, Mumps and Rubella;
* Recommendation of temporary restrictions of private contacts with unprotected persons and of any public activities in groups for patients and their unvaccinated family members;
* Public health information to increase regional clinicians' alertness regarding measles in their area;
* Enhanced communication with educational institutions and parents with critical attitudes towards vaccination of the children.

This has helped stop the spread of the disease, but strikingly enough, few parents have taken the offer of getting their children vaccinated. What's more, some parents did something much more incredible - they filed an action against the District Health Offices at the Berlin Administration Court for not allowing their children to go to school so they could get infected.

In early February, parents whose children were affected by the temporary school exclusion filed an action against the respective District Health Office at the Berlin Administration Court. The claim argued that the health authority’s decision impeded the unvaccinated children’s rights to visit school and to acquire immunity against measles through natural infection. Measles was claimed to be a harmless infection in children without severe complications and possible long-term disabilities. The specific vaccination against measles was perceived to be inefficient and dangerous.

They wanted their children to get sick with a potentially deadly disease! What the hell is wrong with these people? How can anyone be so ignorant?

Luckily the claims were dismissed by the Berlin Administration Court, but cases are pending at the Berlin High Administrative Court. Hopefully they will be dismissed there as well.

Measles are a serious disease, which causes hundreds of deaths every day. For people to want to expose their children to it, shows how dangerous the anti-vaccination movement is.

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Blogger Green Stone said...

I want to be all "I told you so" to the parents of the anti-vaxxers, but they're still being obstinate asses and it's their kids that are suffering, not them, so I'm just pissed off at this.


April 06, 2010 12:00 AM  
Anonymous Ender said...

Idiots. They'll regret it if one of their kids dies from whatever disease they've let them catch.

April 09, 2010 2:21 PM  

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