Recent measles epidemic may be result of past bad decisions

The recent increase in measles cases may be the result of poor decisions made 15 years ago, the owner of the Pediatric Center of Round Rock in Austin, Texas, said on Wednesday.

Marta Katalenas, a board certified pediatrician, said the recent measles epidemics in the United Kingdom, Wales and the U.S. are the result of decisions based on bad information, fear and a desire for notoriety. She said it goes back to 1988 when a group of doctors led by Andrew Wakefield published an article that suggested a relationship between the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella and an increasing incidence of autism.

The press and other media outlets echoed the fears of the study and published opinions from many sources, even people with no medical training such as actress Jenny McCarthy.

Between November and July, there were 1,219 cases of measles in southwest Wales, compared to 105 cases the year before. In August, 21 children and adults from the Eagle Mountain International Church, 30 miles north of Fort Worth, Texas, contracted measles. Katalenas said the outbreaks are the result of decisions based on the 1998 study.

"We are now seeing the consequences of those decisions and, of course, nobody is taking responsibility for promoting erroneous information, which fueled parents' objections to life-saving vaccines for their children," Katalenas said.

Katalenas encouraged parents to get information on the MMR vaccine from a panel of experts, rather than anecdotal cases or individual opinions. She urged parents to make sure their children are up to date on their immunizations.

"Please do not gamble with your child's health or those around you who may have weakened immune systems," Katalenas said.