Tag: measles strains

Are the Measles Outbreaks in New York a Hoax?

Wait, why do some folks think that the measles outbreaks in New York are a hoax?

There were no confirmed cases in the measles outbreaks in New York, except the 654 measles cases that were confirmed… Some hoax!
There were no confirmed cases in the measles outbreaks in New York, except the 654 measles cases that were confirmed… Some hoax!

Oh, the usual suspects

Are the Measles Outbreaks in New York a Hoax?

Brooklyn, New York had 654 measles cases in the largest measles outbreak in 27 years.

There have been 312 confirmed cases in the measles outbreaks in Rockland, County, New York.

There have been an additional 312 confirmed, reported cases in Rockland County, New York, the longest measles outbreak since the endemic spread of measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

Were they a hoax?

“A total of 654 cases were confirmed, with rash onsets between September 30, 2018 and July 15, 2019. Serious complications included hospitalization (52), intensive unit care (19) and pneumonia (34). Multiple international importations of measles introduced into a community with prevalent delays in vaccination among young children propagated this outbreak.”

2019 Health Alert #26: Update on Measles Outbreak in New York City

Of course not!

The New York State Department of Health advises that on all suspected measles cases, “Viral specimens (nasopharyngeal swaband urine) and serology (IgM and IgG) should be obtained for diagnostic testing and confirmation.”

Were these cases all caused by vaccine strain measles, as Larry Palevesky suggests?

Of course not!

A vaccine strain has never before caused a measles outbreak. And NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, in a press conference, stated that “Yeah, it’s, you can’t get the measles from the vaccine.”

Although anti-vax folks often focus on the measles strain when there is an outbreak, all it really helps you do is figure out where the imported cases came from.

Even though health officials didn’t tell us the specific strains involved in the outbreaks, guess what, they did tell us the sources of the outbreak, so it is basically the same thing.

The cases were imported from Israel, UK, and Ukraine.

And the CDC has told us that “All measles cases this year have been caused by measles wild-type D8 or B3.”

“We have to stop blaming, accusing, targeting, ostracizing, condemning unvaccinated children as a health risk, which would then make this subject completely moot.”

Larry Palevsky

What else do we know about the measles outbreak in Brooklyn?

  • it began in October 2018 “with an unvaccinated child from Brooklyn who acquired measles in Israel”
  • it included 15 neighborhoods in Brooklyn, with most concentrated in Williamsburg, Borough Park, and Sunset Park
  • the majority of cases were in children, including at least 91 cases in infants less than 12 months old
  • the great majority of cases were unvaccinated, with only 27 cases fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR
  • there were 52 hospitalizations, including 16 ICU admissions

And the outbreak cost over $6 million to control!

The Rockland County measles outbreak is still ongoing.

At a gathering for the New York Alliance for Vaccine Rights and First Freedoms Community, these folks, including Larry Palevsky (left) are discussing the "alleged" measles outbreaks that New York spent $6 million and 500 staff to contain.
At a gathering for the New York Alliance for Vaccine Rights and First Freedoms Community, these folks, including Larry Palevsky (left) are discussing the “alleged” measles outbreaks that New York spent $6 million and 500 staff to contain.

So why do they think they are a hoax?

“There were over 800 kids who the New York State and New York City Department of Health have said were confirmed cases of measles. The real question is, were these really confirmed as per the CDC recommendations. We do not have that data. In fact, anecdotally, New York State told the physicians not to do the tests.”

Larry Palevsky

Is this about the strains again? Is this about the fact that once you know you are in the middle of a huge measles outbreak, you might be able to start diagnosing kids clinically?

“New York State lied when they said that there were confirmed cases. We don’t know what kind of illnesses the kids had. And there’s a set of papers in the literature that specifically state that if the children are found by analysis to have a measles virus infection that is consistent with a side effect of the vaccine, it is important for the Department of Health to alert the public that it was a vaccine strain that caused the outbreak, because a vaccine strain illness should not be equated with a public health emergency. [Applause]”

Larry Palevsky

Yes, it is about the strains…

“So the reality is that when there is a vaccine strain measles outbreak, meaning that the vaccine itself was not properly attenuated, meaning it was more active and virulent than just simply giving an antibody response in the body, when that occurs an outbreak is almost always very very close to the vest, meaning that would explain why it was only seen in two communities out of 62. And if New York state had done the proper testing of the vaccine to see if it was too virulent and of the children who had the measles infection to see what type of measles virus they had, then in all likelihood this was a vaccine strain measles infection which is known to be a side effect of the vaccine and not a public health emergency.”

Larry Palevsky

Is any of that true?

Since we have never had an outbreak of measles from an MMR vaccine that wasn’t properly attenuated, I’m guessing no, it isn’t. Also remember that to control the outbreak, they gave lots and lots of MMR vaccine to unvaccinated folks in those communities…

What about his explanation for why we only saw outbreaks in Brooklyn and Rockland Counties? Well, for one thing, we didn’t. Other areas of New York and of course, around the country have seen a rise in measles. And the outbreaks in Brooklyn and Rockland Counties were caused when unvaccinated folks traveled to Israel, UK, and Ukraine and returned to an area with low immunization rates. They weren’t caused by a bad batch or mutant strains of measles in the MMR vaccine.

“So the New York State Department of Health failed to do their job and instead they lied and said the cases were confirmed and they didn’t do their due diligence to actually evaluate all the possible reasons that an outbreak could have occurred. It’s very strange that two communities where there are lots of people moving through those communities that are non-Jewish, that are outside of the state that are coming through and why just those communities got the illness. That should have raised the red flag that something else was going on and your state failed us.”

Is it possible that those other people moving in and out of those communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County were vaccinated and protected against measles?!?

One thing should be very clear.

Brooklyn may have stopped their measles outbreak, but New York still has a public health emergency on their hands.

Well, not just New York. We need to stop this kind of propaganda if we want to keep parents from being scared to immunize and protect their kids.

More on Measles in NY

Wakefield’s Mutating Measles and Natural Herd Immunity

Andrew Wakefield is back and warning folks about “mutant measles” and our loss of natural herd immunity.

Andrew Wakefield and Del Bigtree talk about mutating measles and natural herd immunity.

Of course, that isn’t what is causing our record breaking measles outbreaks.

Natural Herd Immunity

Why is he talking about measles this time, besides a new propaganda film he is already pushing?

“We are in a time now when obviously anti-vaxxers are getting blamed for these measles outbreaks here in this country – the biggest measles outbreak since they declared measles to be eradicated from America. But what you had to say was really interesting. First, the only deaths I’ve seen really specifically have been the stewardess in Israel. We hear about she died. She got the measles but she was vaccinated. There was a child, a young man in Europe. He died after having measles. He was vaccinated… What’s happening? Why is the news not talking about how these were vaccinated individuals? What’s happening with measles?”

Del Bigtree on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

He is looking to play the blame game. Measles cases are on the rise and while they aren’t all due to vaccine hesitancy, many are. And that has left anti-vaccine folks looking to shift the blame elsewhere.

And with cases on the rise, we are also seeing measles deaths on the rise. Which has to make you think, has Del Bigtree really only heard of two measles deaths? After all, there have been over a hundred in Europe, including eight measles deaths in Italy alone.

“I guess the question comes down to that poor air stewardess. Did she die because she was vaccinated? That’s a really big question.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Is that really even a question?

A 43-year-old mother of three, died four months after getting measles while working as a flight attendant for El Al, getting exposed on a flight from New York and Israel.

She died because someone exposed her to measles, a life-threatening disease.

“It really is a question of who is to blame, who’s really to blame for the resurgence of measles around the world. Is it those they label anti-vaxxers or is it in fact those responsible for vaccination?”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Hmm, who’s to blame for the outbreaks. Anti-vaxxers or those vaccinating and protecting folks…

Guess who Wakefield is blaming?

“I’ve been studying measles since 1990. It’s something I know something about. As I got into it… I suddenly realized what the problem was and I also realized that they, on the other side, the vaccinologists, the industry, the smart ones, know it. And it’s their greatest fear.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

So what did Wakefield figure out?

This is the consequence of better hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition in the first part of the century and vaccines later on.
This is the consequence of better hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition in the first part of the century and vaccines later on.

He talks about natural herd immunity, shows mortality graphs, and goes on about how measles is most serious in those under one and adults, but is a “trivial disease” in children.

“Nature has constrained the age of exposure to the majority of people getting measles when they are children, because that’s when they can get it safely.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

So by vaccinating people, he argues that we have interrupted the protection you get from natural infections. Adults don’t have lifetime immunity from their childhood infections and infants don’t have the passive immunity they get from their mothers, protecting them when they are most at risk.

He goes so far as to say that measles deaths would have “declined to zero” if we had never vaccinated!

What’s the problem with his theory?

Typical mortality graphs that anti-vax folks use don't tell the whole story...
Typical mortality graphs that anti-vax folks use don’t tell the whole story…

Well, for one thing, why didn’t natural herd immunity protect folks from dying with measles in the early 1900s? Or in the 1950s, when we still had 400 deaths a year in the United States?

Why didn’t natural herd immunity get rid of smallpox or any other disease?

And if we go back to the pre-vaccine era, when everyone got measles, what happens to all those with immune system problems who will almost certainly die if they get exposed to measles? These are the people who rely on herd immunity now, but they will be at big risk in this natural herd immunity model, because it means that millions of kids get measles every year.

Give Another Dose…

What do Wakefield and Del think that our answer will be to the measles outbreaks?

“The only answer they have is to give another dose, and give another dose, and give another dose.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Of course, there are no calls to give “one more in college” and “two more MMR in adulthood” for measles protection as Del Bigtree claims.

In fact, two doses are very effective protection against measles.

“We report a screen of plasma donors confirming that widespread use of childhood measles vaccination since 1963 resulted in a decrease in average measles virus antibody titers among plasma donors, which is reflected in intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIGs).”

Modrof et al on Measles Virus Neutralizing Antibodies in Intravenous Immunoglobulins: Is an Increase by Revaccination of Plasma Donors Possible?

And no, the paper Wakefield talked about doesn’t prove that the MMR vaccine doesn’t work.

“With the success of the measles vaccination program and the ongoing World Health Organization efforts to eliminate and ultimately eradicate measles worldwide, a replacement of the measles virus antibody titer as a functional potency requirement for IVIG seems inevitable in the long term.”

Modrof et al on Measles Virus Neutralizing Antibodies in Intravenous Immunoglobulins: Is an Increase by Revaccination of Plasma Donors Possible?

The article actually talks about how successful the MMR vaccine is and just says that folks who are vaccinated don’t get the extra high levels of antibodies needed to make IVIG, which is used to treat people who are exposed to measles.

That doesn’t mean their vaccine didn’t work though. Many studies have demonstrated an amnestic response after measles vaccination, meaning that antibodies levels rise with any exposure to wild measles virus.

Mutating Measles

Little that Andrew Wakefield or Del Bigtree say in their video on mutating measles is true.

When he finally gets to actually talking about mutating measles, it is about a paper describing a new D4 subgenotype of measles.

Most measles outbreaks are now caused by B3 and D8 measles strains.
Most measles outbreaks are now caused by B3 and D8 measles strains.

A strain for which antigenic shift might have led to resistance to vaccine induced protection, but fortunately, one that is rarely found.

And it isn’t what’s causing our measles outbreaks.

Remember, most people who get measles are unvaccinated.

“It’s that certainty that makes them so dangerous.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Why is Wakefield so certain he is right?

“This is why, when that air hostess, got her vaccine, which she was probably promised, her mother was promised that it would give her protection for life, and it didn’t. She was susceptible again as an adult when it was more serious. So measles vaccination had made what was increasingly a trivial disease in children a much, much more dangerous disease. So who’s responsible for the resurgence of measles? Who’s responsible for the death of that girl?

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Who does he blame for bringing measles back?

Wakefield blames the vaccinologists…

Who's really to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?
Who’s really to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?

How many people still blame Wakefield?

“So the adult population of this country is completely unprotected from measles virus unless you have had a natural infection. Boosting it with vaccination is not going to make any difference and that is an incredibly worrying situation.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Just remember, the measles vaccine is very effective, especially when you get two doses. Most of the people who are getting measles are unvaccinated, either intentionally or because of lack of access.

And measles is hardly a trivial disease.

Neither is listening to this kind of anti-vaccine propaganda.

More on Mutating Measles and Natural Herd Immunity

Was the Measles Outbreak in Michigan Caused by Vaccine-Strain Measles?

Anti-vaccine folks are pushing some new misinformation about measles outbreaks.

Was the Measles Outbreak in Michigan Caused by Vaccine-Strain Measles?

What is it this time?

The Michigan measles outbreak was not caused by a vaccine strain of measles.
The Michigan measles outbreak was not caused by a vaccine strain of measles.

Vaccine-strain measles?

Causing an outbreak?!?

Since a vaccine-strain has never triggered an outbreak before, you would think these folks would be a little more skeptical about this “news.”

So what’s the real story?

“The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reducing the statewide count of measles for 2019 to 39 following further testing of two of the cases.”

State measles cases reduced to 39 following additional testing

So there is a hint of truth to their new rumor…

“One child in Washtenaw County had been potentially exposed to measles and that child, along with an Oakland County child, had both been recently vaccinated. Their symptoms and initial test results classified them as measles cases. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocol, additional genotype testing was conducted and determined they were not measles cases. “

State measles cases reduced to 39 following additional testing

On further testing though, they didn’t have wild strain measles. They had a vaccine strain – because they had recently been vaccinated.

These two kids likely had a fever and rash and because they had recently been exposed to measles, it was initially assumed that they had measles. That was likely a safe bet in the middle of a large measles outbreak.

But as often seems to happen, anti-vaccine folks get confused by vaccine reactions and vaccine associated measles.

So they didn’t have measles induced by the vaccine. They had a simple vaccine reaction, with a fever and rash.

What’s the difference? All of the other symptoms of measles!

The Southeast Michigan outbreak, which included 44 cases, began in mid-March.
The Southeast Michigan outbreak, which included 44 cases, began in mid-March.

As ridiculous as it is to have to say this, the Michigan measles outbreak was not canceled. And like other outbreaks, the Michigan measles outbreak was not caused by a vaccine or shedding.

More on the Michigan Measles Outbreak

When is Measles Season?

For a while, especially once we eliminated the endemic spread of measles, we weren’t thinking about measles seasons anymore.

In addition to the recent rise in measles cases, this slide shows the patterns of measles seasons in different parts of the world.
In addition to the recent rise in measles cases, this slide shows the patterns of measles seasons in different parts of the world.

Unfortunately, with ongoing outbreaks and rising cases, many people are asking again – just when is measles season?

When is Measles Season?

Traditionally, the time when measles case counts are the highest occurs:

  • during the late winter and early spring (temperate climates, like the United States)
  • after the rainy season (tropical climates)
  • when kids are in school

So just like flu season, it’s always measles season somewhere…

And in areas of the world where measles is still highly endemic, you can expect cycles of larger measles epidemics every 1 to 4 years.

Can you guess why?

“As higher uniform population immunity is achieved the scale of epidemics, both their duration and absolute number of cases, progressively decreases. Epidemic frequency simultaneously decreases with increasing time intervals between epidemics. Another uniform feature as elimination is approached is the loss of epidemic seasonality.”

Durrheim et al on Measles – The epidemiology of elimination

I’ll give you a hint – there is nothing different about the measles virus during those years.

Eventually though, as the number of people susceptible to measles builds up, there is the opportunity for bigger outbreaks. Of course, that doesn’t happen if most people are vaccinated and protected.

When is Measles Season in the United States?

What about in the United States in the post-vaccine era?

Visiting a place with a lot of measles, especially if you aren't vaccinated and protected, increases the risk that you will bring measles home with you and start an outbreak.
Visiting a place with a lot of measles, especially if you aren’t vaccinated and protected, increases the risk that you will bring measles home with you and start an outbreak.

We don’t really have a measles season, as all of our cases are now imported from other parts of the world.

  1. Where and when are folks traveling?
  2. Where is measles on the rise?

That’s when we will see more measles cases here.

“Source countries included Philippines (14 cases), Ukraine (8), Israel (5), Thailand (3), Vietnam (2), Germany (2), and one importation each from Algeria, France, India, Lithuania, Russia, and the United Kingdom.”

Increase in Measles Cases — United States, January 1–April 26, 2019

In the early part of 2019, we saw a lot of cases because unvaccinated travelers were returning from Philippines, Ukraine, and Israel, countries in peak measles season.

Are Europe's measles outbreaks slowing down yet?
Are Europe’s measles outbreaks slowing down yet?

As cases in those countries hopefully slow down over the summer, unfortunately, we might see a rise in other parts of the world.

Of course, there is an easy way to end our measles seasons once and for all.

Two doses of MMR is your best protection against measles.

Get vaccinated and protected, especially before traveling out of the country.

More on Measles Season?