It took just one two-year old to spark a statewide measles outbreak.
One unvaccinated two-year old.
A study in the online journal Pediatrics has shown how just one small child sparked a massive contamination.
The outbreak in 2011 infected 19 children and two adults and exposed 3000 people to the disease in the state of Minnesota in the US.
It offers a case study of how the disease is transmitted throughout the world – the report shows how an unvaccinated person travels overseas, brings measles back and infects vulnerable people — including children who are unprotected because their parents chose not to vaccinate them.
The Minnesota outbreak began when an unvaccinated 2-year-old was taken to Kenya, where he contracted the measles virus. After returning to the United States, the child developed a fever, cough and vomiting. However, before measles was diagnosed, he passed the virus on to three children in a drop-in childcare center and another household member.
Contacts then multiplied, with more than 3,000 people eventually exposed.
And tellingly nine of the children ultimately infected were old enough to have received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine but none of them had.
Of great concern is the fact that according to the report in most of those cases, the child’s parents feared the MMR vaccine could cause autism.
Pam Gahr, an epidemiologist wrote in the journal, Pediatrics “I think that as long as autism remains unexplained, the idea that the MMR is a cause will persist.”
A recent study led by the University of Sydney showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no link between autism and vaccines.
Previously Dr Rachel Dunlop wrote for Mamamia:
“There is no solid scientific evidence for a link between vaccines and autism. And believe me, science has been looking for well over 14 years. The theory that vaccines cause autism was first suggested by Andrew Wakefield in 1998.
Since then, Wakefield’s paper has been discredited and withdrawn from The Lancet and Wakefield has lost his medical licence for showing “callous disregard” for children’s welfare. Since 1998 there have been countless large and comprehensive studies looking for a link between vaccines and autism, but the evidence keeps coming up negative”
Despite the unique circumstances of the Minnesota outbreak, though, measles can happen anywhere people are unvaccinated.
Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City told CBS News. “These outbreaks occur in all types of settings.”
In the U.S. measles cases are at a 20-year high this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week. As of May 30, the agency had received reports of 334 measles cases in 18 states.