The belief that some vaccines, or mercury based vaccine preservatives, cause or contribute to today's increasing autism rates, now estimated at 1 in 150, persists despite an almost total lack of support in the scientific community for any causal connection. The fear generated by that belief is itself believed to have contributed to higher rates of vaccine refusals with resulting increases in diseases such as measles and mumps. In Atlantic Canada we are currently suffering an outbreak of mumps, with the particular strain of mumps having orginated in the UK where immunization rates dropped from fear that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine caused autism.
Health: ALERT: INFECTIONS
Mumps outbreak spreads
May 11, 2007
Nova Scotia's mumps outbreak has spread to Ontario, infecting five people so far and putting public-health officials in the province on alert for even more cases in the weeks to come.
The latest outbreak indicates that many who were vaccinated years ago are now susceptible to catching the disease. Public-health officials are now debating whether they need to administer a booster shot.
Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care confirmed yesterday that the cases, two of which are in Toronto, are linked to the outbreak in Nova Scotia, where more than 200 people have been infected by the disease. The outbreak, which began in late February, has also infected 34 people in New Brunswick and one in Prince Edward Island.
Neil Rau, an infectious disease specialist at Halton Healthcare Services in Ontario, said the current strain of mumps originated in Britain, where there was a large outbreak in 2004. Immunization rates had drop significantly in Britain because many people believed the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine caused autism. The vaccine-autism link has since been disproved, he noted.
The disease reached Iowa last year, and Dr. Rau said it has now found its way into Canada.
"It's global travel compounded with vaccine refusal," he said.