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Mayo Clinic physician: Mistaken fear of measles shot has 'devastating' effect
Date:8/30/2011

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- More than 150 cases of measles have been reported in the United States already this year and there have been similar outbreaks in Europe, a sign the disease is making an alarming comeback. The reappearance of the potentially deadly virus is the result of unfounded fears about a link between the measles shot and autism that have turned some parents against childhood vaccination, says Gregory Poland, M.D. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/bio/10966366.html), of Mayo Clinic. In the September issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings (http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com), Dr. Poland urges doctors to review extensive scientific research that has found no connection between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

Fears about the MMR vaccine were sparked in 1998 by researcher Andrew Wakefield, M.D., in the British medical journal The Lancet (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01406736). Dr. Wakefield's study was later found fraudulent by the British General Medical Council and the paper was retracted. Even so, suspicions about the vaccine -- as well as its additives such as thimerosal -- have persisted, gaining steam with the public through celebrity advocates and widespread media coverage.

"A rising portion of the population is deciding not to immunize their children because of this controversy, and these children are now susceptible to the measles (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/measles/DS00331) virus," says Dr. Poland, Mary Lowell Leary Professor of Medicine and director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group.

"The results have been devastating," Dr. Poland says. "The campaign against the vaccine has caused great harm to public health across multiple nations,
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Contact: Rebecca Eisenman
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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