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publicado em 19/04/2013 às 16h30:00
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Measles outbreak threatens 2 million children in the UK

In all, 214 cases were confirmed and 220 are under investigation. About 3700 children have received the vaccine triple

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Up to two million children in Britain who did not receive MMR vaccines a decade ago because of Dr. Andrew Wakefield's now discredited autism scare are at risk of measles.

Experts are urging health authorities to implement a national "catch-up" campaign to prevent measles, which has spread dramatically in Wales, from affecting the rest of Britain.

Half of the children who were not vaccinated ten years ago live in London.

Dr. Helen Bedford, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Child Health Paediatric Epidemiology Unit, University College London, is warning that the current Welsh measles epidemic may spread to London.

Dr. Bedford said:

"There is a potential for more outbreaks. Children are going to get measles. There are about two million children who are susceptible because they haven't been vaccinated. London is a particular case of point."

Doctors in Wales say that it is only a matter of time before a child dies, suffers serious eye disorders, brain damage, or becomes deaf.

Dr. Wakefield's 1998 fraudulent study triggered a scare

Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study in the The Lancet in 1998 suggesting that the MMR vaccination increased a baby's risk of developing autism. The BMJ (British Medical Journal) later described the research as "an elaborate fraud".

Investigative journalist, Brian Deer, revealed in the BMJ in 2011 that Dr. Wakefield's falsified studies in 1998 had a multimillion-dollar motivation behind them.

The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal, eventually retracted Dr. Wakefield's paper from public record. On its website, The Lancet wrote "It has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were 'consecutively referred' and that investigations were 'approved' by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record."

The 1998 study scared parents for several years. From 1998 to 2003 millions of young children in the UK did not receive their MMR vaccinations because their parents refused.

Millions of 11 to 12 year-olds unvaccinated

Children normally receive their first MMR injection at the age of one year, and then a booster vaccine before they start primary school. There are approximately two million schoolchildren aged 11 and 12 who were not immunized a decade ago, and their parents have not caught up, said Dr. David Elliman, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

These children are starting secondary school, which have more children, making these kids more vulnerable. There are large groups of unimmunized children in UK secondary schools.

When about 90% of children are vaccinated against measles, the disease cannot spread easily. Unfortunately, a decade ago about nearly half (45%) of five-year-old children in London had not received their initial MMR vaccine plus the booster dose. Dr. Elliman says most of these kids will remain unvaccinated in their teens unless measures are taken now.

London has still not fully recovered from Dr. Wakefield's scare. While about 90% of 5-year-olds in the UK today are immunized against measles, only 81% are in London.

Dr. Bedford urges parents to find out what their children's MMR vaccination status is, and to make sure they are immunized.

Swansea has 808 cases of measles

Health officials in Swansea, Wales' second largest city (pop. 270,000) say that the number of measles cases in the current epidemic has risen to 808. From Tuesday to Thursday this week there were 43 more cases.

Seventy-seven children with measles have been hospitalized since the beginning of the outbreak in November 2012.

In parts of mid and south Wales MMR vaccines are being offered in schools.

Director of public health for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board, Dr Sara Hayes, in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live, explained that it was too early to assess the level of uptake following Wednesday's first day of vaccinations.

Dr. Hayes said "You can imagine vaccinations being given in general practice and in drop-in sessions as well as in schools, so it's a moving target basically. But we think it's probably only about 30 to 40% uptake so far. We'll be doing much more analysis over the next few weeks but, yes, we are disappointed we didn't get a higher uptake on our first day so we're meeting today and tomorrow to see what we can do about it."

Dr Marion Lyons, PHW director of health protection, said:

"We can't bring this outbreak to an end unless the parents of unvaccinated children either arrange vaccination with their GP, call in to one of the weekend drop-in sessions or ensure that if their child attends a school where vaccinations are being offered, they have signed a consent form for them to be vaccinated."

   Palavras-chave:   Measles    Measles outbreak    Triple vaccine    MMR    Andrew Wakefield    Helen Bedford    University College London   
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