The BBC reports that UK measles rates continue to rise (Rise in measles ‘very worrying’), in response to falling levels of MMR vaccination.  The downward trend in MMR vaccination followed Andrew Wakefield’s claims that there is a link between MMR vaccination and autism. That the British public continue to believe there is a link between MMR vaccination and autism, despite the many investigations that have disproved it is really very sad.

rising measles rates

Ben Goldacre has written extensively on the culpability of the media in propagating the scare stories that have resulted in this appalling situation.  Recently he blogged about a highly irresponsible LCB  radio broadcast in which Jeni Barnett continued to push distorted and inaccurate information on the supposed dangers of vaccination. Today he reports that LCB have launched lawyers at him, on the grounds that his posting mp3 recordings of that segment of the radio show breaches copyright (he promptly removed the link from his website).  Too late, I fear, the recording has begun to proliferate on the internet (see Streisand Effect).  Now, it’s made it to Wikileaks, so I guess it’s out there to stay.  And I hear that transcripts are being prepared for release.

The sad thing is that vaccination has been so successful that people forget how effective it has been in eliminating disease.  Measles isn’t some trivial kid’s disease that just gives you red spots and is a amusing plot hook in The Beano – it’s a serious disease with a significat risk of permanent disability and even death.

(sarcasm)So, thank you Andrew Wakefield, for your *wonderful* contribution to child health (/sarcasm).  And a big raspberry to the nation’s media, who keep peddling this dangerous tosh.

The Quackometer has listed some sites passing on the message:

NHS BlogDoc: Jeni Barnett and LBC start the clean-up operation

Science Punk: LBC sic lawyers on Ben Goldacre over criticism of MMR show

Podblack Cat: Ben Goldacre – Will Not, Should Not, Be Silenced On Jeni Barnett.

jdc325: MMR Scaremongering From Jeni Barnett: LBC Use Legal Chill Tactics. Ugh.

Political Scientist: URGENT: The Joy of Law

The Lay Scientist: Jeni Barnett on MMR – The Complete Show.

A Drunken Madman: More medical mendacity.

Scattergum: Jeni Barnett is an idiot.

I dare say this will continue to proliferate round the web.