Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Friday, May 13, 2005

Experts warn of Welsh mumps epidemic

Dr Andrew Wakefield has a lot of suffering to answer for.....!

Experts warn of Welsh mumps epidemic

May 13 2005
Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail

WALES is in the grip of a mumps epidemic, with cases soaring more than 3,400% in the past decade.

The huge growth in cases has seen outbreaks of mumps appearing among children and young people.

Experts today warned that no opportunity should be missed to offer the MMR jab to those at the highest risk of mumps, including children and teenagers starting school or university.

Researchers from Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, writing in today's British Medical Journal, claimed that the UK is now "in the grip of a nationwide mumps epidemic".

More cases of mumps have been reported in the first five months of this year in Wales, compared to the whole of last year.

Figures from the National Public Health Service for Wales show that there have been 2,530 notified cases of mumps this year, compared to 1,891 2004.

There were only 71 cases in 1995.

Most cases are occurring in people in their late teens and early 20s - the age group who were too old to have received two doses of MMR but too young to have caught mumps as a child.

Dr Richard Roberts, a consultant in communicable diseases for the National Public Health Service for Wales, said, "There has been a very dramatic increase in the incidence of mumps across the UK in general, and Wales is no exception.

"Mumps can be a serious illness resulting in hospitalisation and complications but it is largely preventable through the MMR immunisation, which protects over 90% of those who receive one dose and 99% of those who receive two doses of the vaccine."

The researchers from Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, added, "Most patients are aged between 19 and 23 and there is now the threat of outbreaks among under-immunised children."

A second paper published today in the BMJ by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) reveals that the number of mumps notifications in England and Wales has risen to 16,436 - up from 4,204 in 2004.

The highest attack rate has been among children born between 1983 and 1986, who were too old to be offered the MMR jab routinely, although some may have received one dose of MMR as part of a catch-up programme when they entered school.

But younger children, who have not been given the MMR jab amid claims it is linked to autism and bowel disease, are also at risk.

Dr Andrew Wakefield's claims, published in 1998, caused widespread panic among parents when it suggested a link between MMR and autism - a claim rejected by the majority of experts.

The researchers said the World Health Organisation recommended immunisation coverage of 90% to prevent outbreaks of mumps.

In Wales, cases of mumps have been rising steadily since 2000 - two years after Dr Wakefield's claims were published and at a time when the anti-MMR campaign was gaining strength.

During the height of the backlash against the triple-combined measles, mumps and rubella jab, uptake in some parts of Wales fell to below 70%.

Figures from the National Public Health Service for Wales suggest confidence in the jab is returning as uptake across Wales, and in the heart of the anti campaign, is improving.

Dr Roberts said, "We recommend that children and young adults who have not had MMR vaccination should see their GP to arrange for this.

"Two doses are recommended for a full course."

He added that where outbreaks have been identified in Wales, such as in schools, the National Public Health Service for Wales has worked with local GP practices and NHS trusts to raise awareness of MMR and offering immunisation to those who have not already received the jab.