cureguide > Books > The Vaccine Guide > Measles Excerpt 2015
The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults

Measles Excerpt 2015
excerpt from The Vaccine Guide
Randall Neustaedter OMD

Measles Excerpt 2015


(Excerpt from The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults, North Atlantic Books, 2015)

Measles was a common disease of childhood prior to the widespread use of measles vaccine. The disease is transmitted by a virus that is highly contagious. The symptoms of measles are cold symptoms, cough, irritated eyes, and high fever, with the appearance of a rash on the fourth day of illness. The symptoms, including the rash, reach a climax on about the sixth day and then subside in a few days. Contracting the disease naturally results in lifelong immunity.

Measles occasionally sets the stage for more severe forms of the illness. These complications include ear infections, pneumonia, infection of lymph nodes, and encephalitis, but they are not common. In the past, deaths from measles were not uncommon during epidemics. Now the disease has become milder and deaths are rare. Measles is usually a self-limited disease. Encephalitis is reported to occur in one out of 1,000 cases, but this rate of complications applies primarily to children living in poverty conditions with malnutrition. In developed countries the risk of encephalitis is much less. Of these encephalitis cases, 25 to 30 percent show manifestations of brain damage.

Conventional medicine has no specific treatment for measles or measles-associated encephalitis. Homeopaths and holisitic practitioners feel confident in their ability to prevent complications.


Measles was contracted by most children prior to vaccine licensure with an incidence of about 500,000 cases each year in the US. Mortality from measles had declined dramatically during the twentieth century even prior to the introduction of the vaccine with the advent of better nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene. Following the licensing of measles vaccine in 1963, the incidence of measles declined to an average of 3,000 cases per year in the 1980s (Centers for Disease Control, 1994). However, in 1989, a resurgence of measles occurred in the United States, constituting an epidemic that brought levels back up to the 1970s rate of 27,000 reported cases per year. The epidemic continued in 1990, primarily in preschool-age children. In fact, nearly 20 percent of measles cases in 1990 and 1991 occurred in children less than 1 year of age. What did researchers blame for this resurgence of cases in babies? The vaccine. “The cause of the increase in measles cases among children <15 months of age is. . . earlier susceptibility to measles due to transplacental transfer of lesser amounts of measles antibody from young mothers whose measles immunity is from vaccine rather than wild measles virus” (Centers for Disease Control, 1992b). Mothers, in other words, who grew up in the measles vaccine era do not pass antibodies to their babies because immunity from the vaccine disappears over time. Now the shift has occurred from measles as a childhood disease to measles as a disease of adults—and infants born to these adults. Both groups tend to have more complications.

During the late 1990s the incidence of measles again mysteriously decreased and measles was declared eradicated from North, Central, and South America in 2002. Most cases in the years following that have been imported from other countries where measles is still endemic with an average of 63 cases per year in the US between 2000 and 2007. In 2008, a total of 131 cases of measles were reported, and 89 percent of these were attributed to importation from other countries, particularly Europe (CDC, 2008). Similar levels of reported cases occurred in the following years until a larger outbreak occurred in 2014 with 603 cases reported by October in 22 states, the highest number of cases since the 1990s (CDC, 2014).

Vaccine Efficacy

The vaccine has obviously resulted in a dramatic decline in measles cases. In the light of these promising statistics, a national goal was set to eliminate measles by 1982. Notwithstanding these hopes, reports of epidemics in fully vaccinated populations appeared periodically and consistently following the vaccine’s introduction (Shasby et al., 1977; Weiner et al., 1977; Hull et al., 1985).

Measles cases now consistently occur in the vaccinated. A review of measles outbreaks in the United States during 1985–1986 revealed that a median of 60 percent of cases in school-age children occurred in vaccinated individuals (Markowitz et al., 1989). Similarly, a review of 1,600 cases of measles in Quebec, Canada, between January and May 1989 showed that 58 percent of school-age cases had been previously vaccinated (Centers for Disease Control, 1989a). In states with comprehensive (kindergarten through 12th-grade) immunization requirements, between 61 and 90 percent of measles cases occur in persons who were “appropriately” vaccinated (Markowitz et al., 1989).

The official response to measles vaccine failure and epidemics has varied. Within the first ten years after widespread vaccination, the vaccine failures prompted public health authorities to repeatedly raise the recommended age for vaccination. In 1969, the age for vaccine administration was raised to 12 months or older (Albrecht et al., 1977). Because of continued vaccine failure, the age for administration was subsequently raised to 15 months (CDC, 1989b). During 1988, an epidemic in Los Angeles prompted a reconsideration of vaccine recommendations when statistics showed that 38 percent of cases were less than 16 months old (CDC, 1989c). The age for vaccine administration was then lowered again to 9 months in areas with recurrent measles transmission (CDC, 1989d). These children would then require revaccination at 15 months.

The fact that a large percentage of measles cases occurs in school age children and adolescents resulted in the recommendation of mass revaccination. The American College Health Association recommended that all colleges and universities require documentation of both measles and rubella immunity as a prerequisite to matriculation (ACHA, 1983). And finally, the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics announced that the measles vaccine failures necessitated a second dose of vaccine (Centers for Disease Control, 1989i).

Vaccine Reactions

The list of adverse reactions associated with the measles vaccine is shamefully long. The measles vaccine has proven to be a failed and tragic experiment. Vaccine apologists assure us through statistics that natural measles would cause the same effects as vaccination, but in greater numbers. This is small compensation to parents of children who have been injured by the measles vaccine.

The problems caused by the measles vaccine read like a neurologic textbook. The synromes caused by the vaccine include encephalitis, meningitis, autism, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, seizure disorder, sensorineural deafness, optic neuritis, transverse myelitis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. The human tragedy described in the thousands of reports is staggering. This vaccine is dangerous. The adverse reactions described below sometimes occurred following measles vaccination alone. When measles vaccine is administered in the combination MMR vaccination, attributing reactions to one vaccine is difficult unless specific antibody studies confirm the specific cause. Reactions to MMR vaccine are included in this chapter.

The measles virus can be detected in the nose and throat of vaccine recipients and shed for up to a month. The MMR vaccine has caused cases of vaccine-strain measles in children recently vaccinated, but no recorded cases of measles have occurred in contacts of recently vaccinated children

Acute encephalopathy resulting in brain injury or death has been clearly associated with the measles vaccine. Researchers reviewed medical records of claims from the National Vaccine Injury Com- pensation Program for children who developed encephalopathy within 15 days of a measles or MMR vaccine. A total of 48 children devel- oped seizures, motor and sensory deficits, and retardation on days eight or nine following the measles vaccine. Eight of these children died. The evaluators determined that a causal relationship between measles vaccine and encephalopathy may exist (Weibel et al., 1998). The vaccine strain of the measles virus has been identified as a cause of acute encephalitis (Bitnun, 1999). Reports of central nervous system disorders following measles vaccination abound throughout the worldwide medical literature. A review of cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 1963 to 1971 revealed 59 patients with extensive neurologic disorders (Landrigan & Witte, 1973). In the United Kingdom, 47 cases of encephalitis were reported between 1968 and 1974, and 122 febrile convulsions occurred following measles vaccinations (Beale, 1974). Another report from England identified 26 cases of convulsions between 1975 and 1981 after vaccination (Pollock & Morris, 1983). A report of adverse events associated with measles vaccine in Japan from 1978 to 1983 described 12 cases of encephalitis (Hirayama, 1983). Cases reported through VAERS included 17 suggestive of encephalopathy or encephalitis (Institute of Medicine, 1994). And the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or Vaccine Court, has awarded millions of dollars to children who developed encephalopathy following MMR vaccination.

Other neurologic problems have been seen following measles vac cination. Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune disease characterized by paralysis and demyelination of nerve sheaths, occurred in a 19-month-old girl after measles vaccine. Within one week following vaccination she was unable to stand. A second girl, aged 10 months, developed GBS within four days of measles, DTP, and OPV vaccination (Grose & Spigland, 1976). A 12-year-old girl was diagnosed with GBS following MMR vaccination (Norrby, 1984) and a total of 17 cases developed GBS following measles or MMR vacci- nation in the MSAEFI and VAERS reporting systems between 1979 and 1992 (Institute of Medicine, 1994). Cases continue to be reported. In 1994 a report appeared describing a 16-month-old girl who became “clumsy,” with a tendency to fall over, 10 days after MMR vaccination. Over the next two weeks she became progressively more weak, and was unable to stand without support. Her cough and cry became weak with inability to swallow. She required nasogastric feeding for 4 weeks (Morris & Rylance, 1994).

In recent years the onset of autism in children has been associated with the measles vaccine. A study by gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield and 13 other researchers showed that 12 children who simultaneously developed intestinal disease and autism had elevated levels of IgG measles anti- bodies compared to controls, and measles-specific antigens in cells of the colon (Wakefield, 1998). A follow-up study conducted by Wake- field, O’Leary, and others also showed the presence of persistent measles virus and inflammatory bowel disease in children with devel- opmental disorder. A total of 91 children with developmental disor- der and bowel disease were compared to 70 developmentally normal controls, some of whom also had inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. Among the children with developmental disorder 75 of 91 (82 percent) had persistent measles virus, presumably from the MMR vaccine, compared to 5 of 70 (7 percent) developmentally normal children (Uhlmann et al., 2002).

Dr. Vijendra Singh has identified specific antibodies that produce an autoimmune attack on brain tissue in response to measles vaccine (Singh, 1996; Singh, 1998). Brain injury from the measles vaccine has long been suspected, and a recent report has verified the causal relationship between permanent brain injury and the vaccine (Weibel et al., 1998).

A questionnaire administered to mothers of autistic children revealed another alarming connection to vaccines. This time the effects were apparently passed from mother to infant. Of the 240 mothers sur- veyed, 25 had received a rubella vaccine or MMR vaccine during the postpartum period, and 20 of these women (80 percent) had children with autism. Nine of these children were born just prior to the vacci- nation, and it is presumed that transmission occurred through the mother’s breast milk (Yazbak, 1999). Seven women in this survey received a rubella, measles, hepatitis B, or MMR during pregnancy. “Six out of the seven children (85%) who resulted from these preg- nancies were diagnosed with autism, and the seventh, whose mother received a measles vaccine, exhibits symptoms which suggest autistic spectrum. This child’s twin brother was stillborn” (Yazbak, 1999a).

In the fall of 2000, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established a committee to investigate the relation between MMR vaccine and autism. Despite the findings of clinical studies showing the association, the committee’s report concluded that “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship at the population level between MMR vaccine and autistic spectrum disorders (ASD)” (Institute of Medicine, 2001). Despite these official findings, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or Vaccine Court, has awarded millions of dollars to individual cases of children whose autism was caused by the MMR vaccine. Evidence presented by parents and their attorneys are apparently more compelling in a court of law than the pronouncements of government committees. At this point there is little doubt that injury from the MMR vaccine can result in autism.

Deafness caused by nerve damage following MMR vaccine has been reported by many authors. Optic neuritis accompanied by blindness or partial vision loss has also occurred following MMR vaccination. Thrombocytopenia, a decrease in blood platelets responsible for blood clotting with accompanying spontaneous bleeding, has been acknowledged by the Vaccine Safety Committee as an adverse reac- tion to measles vaccine, based on overwhelming evidence (Institute of Medicine, 1994). During early research on the measles vaccine, it was discovered that vaccination resulted in a dramatic decrease of platelet counts in 86 percent of vaccinated subjects (Oski & Naiman, 1966). A recent study concluded that the MMR vaccine caused thrombocytopenic purpura in one out of every 40,000 doses of MMR vaccine (France, 2008). Anaphylaxis, a severe, acute, systemic, and potentially fatal allergic reaction, has occurred following measles and MMR vaccines. Many reports have documented these reactions. Egg proteins contained in the measles and mumps vaccines may play a role in severe hypersensitivity reactions, since some individuals are exquisitely sensitive to eggs. However, other components of live attenuated virus vaccines, including antibiotics and gelatin contained in these preparations, have been implicated in triggering severe allergic reactions (Patja, 2001).

A disturbing syndrome of atypical measles has occurred in children previously vaccinated. This consists of an illness with exaggerated rash, muscle weakness, peripheral edema, and severe abdominal pain with persistent vomiting (Cherry et al., 1972). These reactions, though rare, have also occurred following vaccination (St. Geme, 1976).

Recent research has shown an association between measles vaccine and inflammatory bowel disease. In one study individuals who had received measles vaccine in the 1960s were more likely to suffer from chronic intestinal disease including Crohn’s disease (characterized by deep ulcers, holes, and thickening of the intestinal lining) and ulcerative colitis thirty years later compared to controls (Thompson et al., 1995). This is not surprising since persistent measles virus infection has been located in intestinal tissue affected by chronic inflammation, particularly in Crohn’s-disease-affected bowel (Wakefield et al., 1995). These researchers found an incidence rate of 1 case of inflammatory bowel disease for every 140 persons vaccinated for measles, compared to an incidence of 1 in 400 controls (Thompson et al., 1995).

Measles vaccine has also been associated with immune system suppression. This mechanism could explain the severe neurologic symptoms and pathology following measles vaccination. For example, after measles vaccine, the number of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that fights disease, decreases (Nicholson et al., 1992), and certain lymphocyte functions essential to their role in fighting pathogenic organisms are depressed (Hirsch et al., 1981).

Holistic Treatment

Vitamin A has been shown to reduce mortality from measles and severity of the disease. Measles reduces serum concentration of vitamin A even in well-nourished children (Inua, 1983). Several studies have found a significant beneficial effect of two doses of 200,000 IU of vitamin A given on successive days to children under two years of age (Yang, 2011). One of the largest of these studies reviewed over 1,700 hospitalized cases of children with measles. Those children who received two doses of 200,000 IU of vitamin A had a shorter hospital stay, less need for intensive care, and a lower death rate compared to 1,000 children who received 3,000 IU (Hussey, 1997).

Both homeopathic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine have a long history of treating measles. Both systems have clear and defined protocols for the treatment of the developing stages of naturally occurring measles.

Measles Facts

  • Measles has historically been a common childhood disease with rare complications.
  • Mass vaccination has resulted in a dramatic decline in measles incidence, but outbreaks continue to occur in both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
  • The vaccine is associated with serious adverse reactions including permanent nervous system damage and autism. Long-term effects are unknown.

A Personal Strategy

Parents must decide whether they are willing to risk the many known and the unknown adverse effects from the measles vaccine in order to prevent the rare complications of natural measles. Parents might choose to rely on holistic healing systems to treat measles infections in children if the disease should occur. Then their children would also obtain lifelong immunity following the natural infection.

  • Other books from CureGuide:
  • The Holistic Baby Guide: Alternative Care for Common Health Problems
  • The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults
  • Child Health Guide: Holistic Pediatrics for Parents
  • Flu: Alternative Treatments and Prevention