The Australian anti-vaccination movement has decided to strike below the belt. Below the belt down to kid level, actually.  Stephanie Messenger has written a kids’ book called “Measles are Marvellous.” (sic- I think that’s how they spell it Down Under)

According to the description:

This book takes children aged 4 – 10 years on a journey of discovering about the ineffectiveness of vaccinations, while teaching them to embrace childhood disease, heal if they get a disease, and build their immune systems naturally.

I can’t make this stuff up. Now, I have a *very* small amount of sympathy for the anti-vaccination crowd. At the end of the day, most of them are doing what they think they need to to protect their children. Messenger herself has a sad tale to tell – she lost a child and believes it was the vaccinations that caused it.

But telling kids that measles are wonderful? Really? Not only could this campaign of misinformation cause even more children to get sick or die, it could cause children to have a completely skewed perspective on how severe measles really can be. If you really want to see what measles looks like, check out the CDC’s image library. Note: Does not contain even one butterfly.

This isn’t Messenger’s first foray into the anti-vax world.

In 1998, she co-authored a book with our old friend Meryl Dorey, of AVN fame, called Vaccination Roulette: Experiences, risks and alternatives.

Come to me, germs!

This year, she’s been giving “vaccination seminars” in Australia. From the overview of her talk:

In QLD approx. 39 babies die from SIDS each year – that’s 1 every 9 days!
Find out what you can do to protect your baby that has a 100% success rate!
This information is being hidden from the general public by vested interests.

Forgetting about the fact that there’s no link between immunizations and SIDS, measles isn’t exactly a walk in the creepy CGI-butterfly-filled park.

According to the Department of Health in Victoria, Australia:

Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral disease which causes fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes, followed by a rash. Measles can sometimes lead to dangerous complications such as pneumonia. About one person in 2,000 who contracts measles will develop inflammation of the brain. For every 10 people who become affected in this way, one will die and four will have permanent brain damage. Measles still causes deaths in Australia. A rare condition called SSPE can develop several years after a measles infection. SSPE rapidly destroys the brain and is always fatal.

And just this week, the Department of Health issued a Health Alert regarding measles.

In the past four weeks the Department of Health (DH) has been notified of four confirmed cases of measles in metropolitan Melbourne.

I checked back and there have been similar alerts that went out in April, 2011, January, 2011, August, 2010 and February, 2010.

Once again, the antivaxxers are ignoring the facts. For more commentary on this, check out PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson and Reasonable Hank.

Masala Skeptic

Masala Skeptic

Maria Walters (a.k.a. Masala Skeptic) has spent a lot of time in ‘furrin parts,’ including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Pittsburgh. Although her passport is from India, she’s spent most of her adult life in the United States. She currently lives in Atlanta and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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25 Comments

  1. Avatar of Brian G
    December 13, 2011 at 11:45 am —

    This is ghastly! I am horrified… by the cover art. Putting outlines around objects in a photograph? That’s some bootleg rotoscope action right there. If Ralph Bakshi were dead, he’d be spinning in his grave.

    Also, get vaccinated. We are all part of a community and it’s up to all of us to protect that community.

    • Avatar of Siveambrai
      December 13, 2011 at 11:49 am —

      I think the real question here is why couldn’t the poor girl get more than half a shirt.

    • Avatar of Erin W
      December 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm —

      Rotoscoping should only be done by a trained professional. And even then, very judiciously.

  2. Avatar of mollygrue
    December 13, 2011 at 11:58 am —

    First, this is sick (and I mean that in every definition of the word). Second, there are many rare lower intestinal diseases that can strike infants and cause them to deteriorate rapidly. Frequently, there is no cause. I am incredibly sympathetic to the loss of her child, but how is she going to feel about causing the deaths of countless other infants who contract measles before they have a functioning immune system? Dear Darwin, the woman needs to seriously find another way to cope with the grief. She hasn’t made it past the anger/blame stage.

  3. Avatar of andiis
    December 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm —

    Given the a large nationwide epidemic
    of measles that occurred between mid-1992 and mid-1995,
    with over 4,500 cases of measles being notified in 1993, I’m devastated to hear that immunization has decreased again. I can only imagine that the parents of new babies have no memory of those days when thousands were infected and many children suffered long term affects of this disease.
    We like to think of ourselves as the lucky country, but for how long , and for whom are we lucky. Our
    Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit is gathering the facts and the various State govt’s are supporting an education campaign. It appears we must reboot our memories every generation and take nothing for granted.

  4. Avatar of James Fox
    December 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm —

    My sister and I had the measles in 1963, just before the vaccine became available. My mother will still tell the story of how she was on the phone with the doctor every day because we were not allowed out of the house or to even go see the doctor because of how contagious we were. Good to know history, but why repeat the nasty preventable bits.

    • Avatar of BeccaTheCyborg
      December 13, 2011 at 11:23 pm —

      I got chickenpox shortly before the vaccine became available, and very, very badly. There’s not a part of me that doesn’t have at least a few little scars. II’m not the kid-having type but I cannot imagine wanting to put a child through that.

  5. Avatar of mrmisconception
    December 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm —

    Can’t wait for the coming sequel You’re Going to Die. Isn’t that lovely? /heavy snark

    Rubin Kincaid on a ham sadwich isn’t the fact that she lost her child sad enough? Does she really need to make others “feel her pain”?

    • Avatar of DataJack
      December 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm —

      COTW! Sorry, I know this is a serious subject, and I take it very seriously myself. But… Snark FTW.

  6. Avatar of dashwood
    December 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm —

    This could be the start of a series.

    Paul’s Perfect Polio!

    Ruby’s Resplendent Rubella!

    Peter’s Pleasing Pertussis!

    • Avatar of mollygrue
      December 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm —

      Fiona’s Fabulous Funeral?

      Austen’s Awesome Autopsy?

      • Avatar of James Fox
        December 13, 2011 at 10:22 pm —

        Larry’s lethal lab results.

        • Avatar of mollygrue
          December 14, 2011 at 5:48 pm —

          I thought Larry had lethal Lockjaw? Wonder how many of the anti-vaxers would go running for a tetanus shot if little Johnny stepped on a nail?

          • Avatar of Chris_H
            December 14, 2011 at 10:51 pm

            Apparently, not many, as I have discovered recently. The woman is just so wonderfully enthusiastic that she did not let her child get the combination tetanus vaccine available, yet she refuses to explain it with any scientific justification.

    • Avatar of redsky
      December 23, 2011 at 10:25 am —

      Shame on you for poking fun! I’ve set up a publishing company to spread the word that there are alternatives to healthy, rational choices. It’s called Blissful Blight Books (www.blissfulblightbooks.com).

  7. Avatar of h4x0rch1x
    December 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm —

    Wow. I had measles in college (I guess my vaccine didn’t work?) only the rash wasn’t so bad, and I have sensitive skin so the first approach to mysterious skin rashes is to switch all my body-care products, laundry detergents, etc. until I figure out the culprit, but I would not wish that on anyone.

    Although, we DO need more awareness on what measles actually is. I was running around, totally contagious, because I thought I was just having some kind of sensitivity reaction to something. Nobody had ever told me that if I had this specific type of rash, I had the measles, and I shouldn’t be holding friends’ babies and such.

    • Avatar of mcaputo2
      December 15, 2011 at 12:04 am —

      Some children only get 1 MMR shot instead of the recommended 2, and by the time you’re 19 the vaccine can wear off. We were very well informed of this when my husband had to get a 2nd shot in order to attend a state university.

  8. Avatar of zylla
    December 13, 2011 at 2:49 pm —

    I’m appalled.

  9. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    December 13, 2011 at 11:56 pm —

    I had a really bad case of measles when I was 1, long before the vaccine became available. Why does Stephanie Messenger want me dead?

  10. Avatar of mcaputo2
    December 15, 2011 at 12:02 am —

    I have an acquaintance who is an anti-vaxxer whose oldest daughter got measles (age 7). She barely survived, but with possible brain damage (just happened and they haven’t been able to observe her long), and the mother takes it as further proof that vaccines are harmful and unnecessary because her daughter survived (after medical intervention). You couldn’t beat the stupid out of that woman.

  11. Avatar of James
    December 15, 2011 at 1:37 am —

    I’m one of the four people who was recently diagnosed. I did actually have vaccinations when I was a kid; I guess I’m one of the very few for whom it wasn’t effective. That’s not the point, though.

    The point of writing this is that I can very confidently say that measles is not fun. I was off work for a week and a half; two weeks after symptoms appeared, I’m still short on energy and haven’t managed to work a full day. I get 9-10 hours of sleep a night and still wake up feeling exhausted. I currently have low liver function, which we’re hoping will recover, but there are no guarantees.

    Not being vaccinated means that you end up with no resistance at all. You get measles, you go down hard. I had no resistance by genetic quirk (others in my family have been tested as having no or insufficient resistance, even after vaccination) — if you’re vulnerable due to lack of action, that’s entirely different. Someone who isn’t vaccinated doesn’t develop ‘natural resistance’ — they get slammed hard and remain vulnerable not only in childhood but in adulthood as well.

    Measles is contagious for several days before symptoms appear, meaning that anyone who’s unvaccinated could pass it on to others. That’s probably how I was infected myself.

    Stephanie, let me tell you from personal experience: measles is not wonderful. It’s awful. I was >< this far from hospitalisation, and it's still not 100% certain that I'll recover fully. I understand tragedy — but this is not a productive or positive way to mourn. This only compounds the tragedy, it doesn't solve anything.

    I'm very, very happy I live in a country with an active, involved health department. I was happy to cooperate with them, and I hope that I'm the last infection.

    • Avatar of mcaputo2
      December 15, 2011 at 9:21 am —

      If your parents only opted for one vaccination instead of the recommended two for Measles, the vaccine can wear off by the time you’re 19, which certainly leaves the possibility of developing it later in life.

      • Avatar of Chris_H
        December 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm —

        My daughter has had two MMR vaccines (she got the second one a bit early due to a measles outbreak at a nearby private school). If she ends up attending UC Berkeley next year, she will get a third MMR vaccine, since that school had a mumps outbreak earlier this year.

  12. Avatar of criticaldragon1177
    December 16, 2011 at 12:19 am —

    Masala Skeptic,

    What is it with these people?

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