Measles: A Rash of Misinformation
With the recent release of a provocative children's book entitled Melanie's Marvelous Measles, a debate has ensued regarding the effectiveness and wisdom surrounding measles vaccinations.
When I first heard about the book, I went to Amazon to order a copy
for myself. The amount of negative reviews was staggering. People were
claiming that the information was "dangerous", "harmful" and
"ill-informed". Some were even calling for the book to be banned. It
took me a few minutes to read it from cover to cover. Rather than
critique the book, which has already been done quite eloquently by
others, I would like to talk about the widespread fear surrounding
measles and the misinformation regarding the vaccine.
References to measles can be found as far back as the 7th century.
Measles is an RNA virus that was first isolated in 1954. A typical
infection produces a characteristic skin rash starting at the head and
progressing down the trunk and extremities. The rash is typically
preceded by a high fever. Around this time, blue-white spots (Koplik
spots) can be found on the mucous membranes. These are considered
pathognomonic for measles. Other symptoms may include cough, runny nose,
conjunctivitis, diarrhea, anorexia and lymphadenopathy.
According to the CDC, prior to the introduction of the vaccine, measles
was a nearly universal infection occurring most commonly in 5-9 year
olds with 90% of U.S. children immune by age 15. Most kids recovered
fully within a few weeks with life-long immunity. Reported complications
from data collected between 1985-1992 included pneumonia (6%),
encephalitis (.1%), seizures (.6-.7%), and death (.2%). These occurred
most frequently in children under 5 and adults over 20. These
complications may, in fact, have been exacerbated by allopathic
interventions to treat common symptoms such as fever reduction using
Many people are aware that the first licensed
live-virus vaccine was introduced in 1963 (Edmonston B strain) but few
know that there was also a kill measles vaccine (KMV) licensed that same
year. That vaccine was pulled in 1967, however, after it was
discovered that individuals who received the KMV and were subsequently
exposed to the wild virus were afflicted with a more severe atypical
form of measles. Today's vaccine, known as MMR, contains attenuated,
live-measles virus (Edmonston-Enders strain) mixed together with mumps
and rubella virus. There is an alternate version of the vaccine, known
as MMRV, that combines MMR with the varicella virus. The measles virus
is cultured on chick embryo fibroblast tissue and the vaccine contains
human albumin, neomycin, sorbitol and gelatin. The 2013 CDC
recommendations include 2 doses of MMR, the first at 12-15 months and
the second at 4-6 years.
CDC data appears to indicate that the live-virus vaccine has been very
effective at decreasing classic measles incidence in our population;
however, it can take little credit for the decreased mortality in the
developed world considering the death rate had decreased over 98% prior
to the vaccine. Nevertheless, vaccine advocates hail this as a
victory. The problem is that few of them question whether it was wise
to prevent children from acquiring this infection naturally.
Many well-respected doctors and researchers believe that measles is a
right of passage that allows a child's immune systems to develop and
strengthen. It has been documented that kids in third world countries
who get a wild measles infection are less susceptible to malaria and
parasitic infections. Medical literature from the 1940s documents
children being cured of a kidney disorder known as nephrotic syndrome
The number of classic measles cases in the US appears to have declined
but any protection afforded by the vaccine is limited and often
short-lived. Natural infection with wild measles creates
long-lasting viral-specific and viral-neutralizing antibodies that are
not acquired following vaccine-introduced infection. There are numerous
documented cases of measles occurring in highly vaccinated communities
[6-8, 17] which can be attributed primarily to short-term efficacy
(secondary vaccine failure). This has important implications
considering the fact that measles has an increased rate of complications
in adults when compared to school age children. In 1973, persons 20
years of age or older accounted for approximately 3% of cases; however,
by 2001 that number had increased to 48%.
Not only are measles complications more frequent and severe in adults,
but infection during pregnancy increases the risk of spontaneous
abortion, premature labor and low-birth weight infants.
Additionally, vaccination appears to have increased infants
susceptibility to measles.
Infants whose mothers were born after 1963 had a measles attack rate of 33% compared with 12% for infants of older mothers.[M]easles
susceptibility of infants younger than 1 year of age may have
increased. During the 1989-91 measles resurgence, incidence rates for
infants were more than twice as high as those in any other age group.
Women of childbearing age, who in the pre-vaccine era acquired measles
naturally in childhood, no longer have the robust, life-long
viral-specific and viral-neutralizing immune factors to pass to their
infants through the placenta and breast milk. Injecting a measles virus
produces antibodies in the serum but not in the mucosa.
Natural measles infection creates mucosal antibodies that are produced
in the mammary gland providing passive immunity to the infant during
breast-feeding as well as higher levels of vaccine-specific antibodies
in the serum.
Measles in infancy is a risk factor for a fatal degenerative central
nervous system condition known as Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis
(SSPE). Could we be setting the stage for disaster if and when
measles reignites here in the U.S. due to either imported cases from
abroad or a novel mutated strain caused by the vaccine itself? I can
predict, with absolute certainty, the response from our government
health officials . . . more vaccines!
What about the possibility of vaccine-induced disorders
not typically associated with a measles infection? Wild measles
exposure occurs through contact with the human respiratory tract. The
measles vaccine introduces a lab altered, live-virus through an
unnatural route of exposure. This weakened, man-made virus can bury
deep into the tissues and create a slow infection in practically any
area of the body including the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract and central
nervous system (CNS). The consequences of these vaccine-induced
infections may not show up for months, years or decades later.
A vaccine induced form of SSPE known as Measles Inclusion-Body
Encephalitis (MIBE) has been documented in children months to years
following measles vaccination. Could the rapid rise in chronic
inflammatory bowel and neurological disorders be caused by these slow
infections? How many doctors would ever think to investigate the
possibility that these illnesses may be with a distant vaccination? To
further complicate the issue, in a phenomenon known as recombination,
the measles virus can combine with other live viruses in the vaccine to
create a novel virus with unknown effects.
There is one additional thing that I would like people to consider . . .
could the whole premise behind artificially stimulating antibody
production in order to provide protection from measles be flawed?
[R]esearchers have noted that children withThe
simple agammaglobulinemia in whom measurable measles antibodies do not
develop after measles virus infection recover from the disease
normally...In contrast to antibody data, patients with defects in the
cell-mediated immune system clearly do poorly...and quickly succumb to
progressive infection despite administration of large doses of measles
fear surrounding measles stems from ignorance. In a well-nourished
child with a properly functioning immune system, viral infections are
typically subclinical or exceedingly mild. Certain infections, such as
measles, even appear to provide long-term health and immune system
benefits. Malnourishment, in particular vitamin A deficiency, is a
primary cause of poor outcomes. One of the most effective ways to
ensure that a viral illness runs a mild or benign course is to provide
children with adequate stores of vitamin A prior to exposure.
As well, high doses of vitamin A given during an acute measles infection
has been shown to prevent mortality. Vitamin A works by signaling
cell-mediated immune cells known as macrophages to produce an anti-viral
messenger known as interferon.
Young infants are unable to produce high-levels of interferon  and,
therefore, rely on passive immunity from mom for protection. It should
be noted that measles vaccination has been shown to deplete levels of
serum vitamin A.
Many fruits and vegetables provide beta-carotene which is converted by
the liver into active vitamin A (retinoids), however, the efficiency of
uptake and conversion can vary based on a variety of factors.
Particularly during illness, I prefer pre-formed vitamin A from high
quality, whole-food sources like cod liver oil and high-vitamin butter
oil. I should mention that Melanie's Marvelous Measles will be one of the first books that I read to my daughter.
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 Historical statistics of the United States – Colonial Time to 1970 Part 1
Dr. Tyson Perez, DC is a chiropractor in Carlsbad, CA where he
specializes in pediatric, prenatal and family care. You can visit his
websites www.WestCoastChiropracticCarlsbad.com and www.SanDiegoScoliosisCenter.com.
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