British Medical Journal Tells Us – Measles Is Not The Scary Disease The Press Want You To Think It Is

Magda Taylor of The Informed Parent has been attempting to reintroduce some sense into the mindless panic of the UK media about a small number of measles cases in a small part of Wales in the UK.  Magda has picked some extracts from back copies of The British Medical Journal of the times when measles cases were rife.  She has been finding how relaxed the medical profession was to what was considered then a mild disease.  Today people would think measles has always been public enemy #1 and it has not. 

Compare how one week ago the BBC’s shroud-waver-in-chief Fergus Walsh described measles with how it was described in 1959 a decade before the measles vaccine. 

BBC’s Fergus Walsh last week wrote “Measles is a highly contagious viral infection. Prior to the introduction of a vaccine it was a major public health threat  ….. around one in five infants infected needs hospital treatment“: Long shadow cast by MMR scare BBC 9 April 2013 Medical Correspondent Fergus Walsh

Here are extracts of how measles was described in 1959 in the British Medical Journal showing a very, very different picture compared to the ones we are being given at the moment.  Emphasis added by Magda Taylor.  The BMJ articles are unfortunately not on open access so you can get access if you have a subscription which allows BMJ online access or you can visit and ask at your local hospital’s library :

Measles Epidemic


Measles epidemic [page 354]

Br Med J 1959;1:351.2 (Published 07 February 1959)

In the first three weeks of this year about 41,000 cases of measles were recorded in England and Wales. This is well above the corresponding figures of the last two years – namely, about 9,000 in 1958 and 28,000 in 1957 – though it is below the highest levels reached in the last nine years. To give some idea of the main features of the disease as it appears today and of how it is best treated, we invited some general practitioners to write short reports on the cases they have seen in their practices recently.

These appear at p.380 (extracts from this page follow this article). It is interesting to note, first, that the distribution of the disease is rather patchy at present. It has not yet reached the areas where two of these doctors practise (in South Scotland and Cornwall), and other areas are known to be free of the disease so far. On the other hand, in Kent it is reported to have arrived in time to put the children to bed over Christmas. These writers agree that measles is nowadays normally a mild infection, and they rarely have occasion to give prophylactic gamma globulin. As to the treatment of the disease and its complications, the emphasis naturally varies from one practice to another. Amount of bed-rest, when to administer a sulphonamide or antibiotic, the use of analgesics and linctuses – all these may still be debatable problems in the treatment of what is said to be the commonest disease in the world. But there is probably much in the opinion which one of the writers expresses: “It is the frequent visiting by the interested clinician and not the therapy which produces the good results.”




Br Med J 1959;1:380 (Published 07 February 1959)

EXTRACTS [pages 380-381]

We are much indebted to the general practitioners whose names appear below for the following notes on the present outbreak of measles.

Dr G. I. WATSON (Peaslake, Surrey) writes:

Measles was introduced just before Christmas by a child from Petworth …….

Treatment of Attack. – No drugs are given for either the fever or the cough; if pressed, I dispense mist. salin. B.N.F. as a placebo. Glutethimide 125 mg. may be given in the afternoon if the child is restless when the rash develops; 250 mg. in single or divided doses at bedtime ensures a good night’s sleep in spite of coughing. I encourage a warm humid atmosphere in the room by various methods: some electric fires and most electric toasters allow an open pan of water to rest on top; an electric kettle blows off too much steam to be kept on for more than short periods. Parents, conscious of the need to darken the room and to forbid reading, may carry this to an unnecessary extreme, starting even before the rash appears. To save a mother some demands, the wireless is a boon to children in darkened rooms. They are allowed up when the rash fades from the abdomen-usually the fourth or fifth day-and may go outside on the next fine day. Apart from fruit to eat, solid food is avoided on the day the rash is appearing; fruit drinks or soups are all they appear to want.

Complications. – So far few complications have arisen. Four cases of otitis media occurred in the first 25 children, but only one had pain. No case of pneumonia has occurred, but one child had grossly abnormal signs in the chest for a few days after the fever subsided, uninfluenced by oral penicillin. One girl had a tear-duct infection and another an undue blepharitis. Of three adult males with the disease, two have been more severely affected than any of the children.

Dr. R. E. HOPE SIMPSON (Cirencester, Glos) writes:

We make no attempt to prevent the spread of measles, and would only use gamma globulin to mitigate the severity of the disease in the case of the exposure of a susceptible adult or child who is already severely debilitated. Bed rest, for seven davs for moderate and severe cases and of five to six days in mild cases, seems to cut down the incidence of such complications as secondary bacterial otitis media and bronchopneumonia. We have not been impressed by the prophylactic or therapeutic use of antibiotics and sulphonamides in the first week of the disease. As soon as the patient is out of bed we allow him out of doors almost regardless of the weather. Otitis Media and Bronchopneumonia.-These conditions often appear so early, sometimes even before the rash, that in such cases one can only conclude that the responsible agent is the virus itself. Despite their initial alarming severity, they tend to resolve spontaneously, and treatment apart from first principles seems useless. When, on the other hand, otitis media or bronchopneumonia comes on after the subsidence of the initial symptoms of measles, it is probably due to a secondary bacterial invader, and we find antibiotics or sulphonamides useful…..


Dr. JOHN FRY (Beckenham, Kent) writes:

The expected biennial epidemic of measles appeared in this region in early December, 1958, just in time to put many youngsters to bed over Christmas. To date there have been close on 150 cases in the practice, and the numbers are now steadily decreasing. Like previous epidemics, the primary cases have been chiefly in the 5- and 6-year-olds, with secondary cases in their younger siblings. No special features have been noted in this relatively mild epidemic. It has been mild because complications have occurred in only four children. One little girl aged 2 suffered from a lobular pneumonia, and three others developed acute otitis media following their measles. In the majority of children the whole episode has been well and truly over in a week, from the prodromal phase to the disappearance of the rash, and many mothers have remarked ”how much good the attack has done their children,” as they seem so much better after the measles.

A family doctor’s approach to the management of measles is essentially a personal and individual matter, based on the personal experiences of the doctor and the individual character and background of the child and the family. In this practice measles is considered as a relatively mild and inevitable childhood ailment that is best encountered any time from 3 to 7 years of age. Over the past 10 years there have been few serious complications at any age, and all children have made complete recoveries. As a result of this reasoning no special attempts have been made at prevention even in young infants in whom the disease has not been found to be especially serious.

17 Responses

  1. A scan of the actual printed text would make the point much more forcefully. People are conditioned to distrust you and you shoul counter that.

  2. ED: Interesting point. We might put links to the BMJ where the citations can be downloaded.

  3. Thought this might be a good place to post a list of columns about the measles that I have written over the years:

  4. I agree with yhg above. A lot of the things you have been posting over the last year or so has not had any real proof or back up, it is just writing. Now anyone could be writing this. I seen in an article on another website that people were starting to find holes in some of the things you were saying? I used to be an avid follower of yous but I am not so convinced anymore!

  5. Children are supposed to get Measles, Mumps, Chicken Pox and other diseases to challenge and grow their immune systems. Parents who do not allow these immune systems to develop and grow naturally are very very xxxxxx.

  6. […] British Medical Journal Tells Us – Measles Is Not The Scary Disease The Press Want You To Think It… […]

  7. @Heather. Looks like you are one of the trolls posting false claims in comments.

    Anyone can check the facts stated in this article by going to the BMJ and seeing for themselves. They can see that it is not just “anyone writing this” but direct quotes from the British Medical Journal.

    Are people like you paid to attempt to deceive or do you do it just for fun?

  8. This would have a great deal more impact if you were quoting current scientific research rather than fifty year old anecdotal reports from a grand total of 3 doctors who obviously did not understand the link between measles and the complications that follow it.

  9. […] done so for some time,if you can get this info out to relevant contacts in Wales that would be great…the British Medical Journal says, measles is not some deadly plague,in fact 52% of mothers in […]

  10. Let’s take a more modern look and less anecdotal look at measles, from 2012:

    22,000 cases in France. It resulted in 5,000 hospitalisations, 1,023 cases with severe pneumonia, 27 cases with encephalitis and/or myelitis, 10 *dead*, and many left with lifelong injuries.

    Note, this survival rate was only due to the support of antibiotics, which are a precious resource. Without vaccines, antibiotics would be useless from resistance within decades.

    This is what measles looks like:

    Most people who get hit by cars survive. It’s preferable that you don’t let your kids and others get hit by them though.

    [ED: On the contrary, all you are doing is showing the likelihood that the modern approach to dealing with measles cases is misconceived.

    The extracts quoted are from a peer reviewed journal the British Medical Journal. The facts stated were open to review and those disagreeing could have made that known. The reality is the article was published because it represented the common experience of medical doctors at the time. The BMJ would not have published it otherwise.

    When measles was common did doctors panic and rush children to hospital and then pump them full of drugs and expose them to the many infections found in hospitals?

    Most deaths following measles were not caused by measles but by a secondary infection like pneumonia. Measles infection is an assault on the immune system. It reduces immunity to other infections. If you further reduce that immunity with drug and other treatments you are making the individual more susceptible to secondary infection and other complications.

    And that is aside from adverse drug reactions which are also an added insult.

    We suggest you read Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions
    in Hospitalized Patients A Meta-analysis of Prospective Studies JAMA. 1998;279:1200-1205:

    Data Synthesis.—The overall incidence of serious ADRs was 6.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.2%-8.2%) and of fatal ADRs was 0.32% (95% CI, 0.23%-0.41%) of hospitalized patients.We estimated that in 1994 overall 2,216,000 (1,721,000-2,711,000) hospitalized patients had serious ADRs and 106,000 (76,000-137,000) had fatal ADRs, making these reactions between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death.

    Conclusions.—The incidence of serious and fatal ADRs in US hospitals was found to be extremely high. While our results must be viewed with circumspection because of heterogeneity among studies and small biases in the samples, these data nevertheless suggest that ADRs represent an important clinical issue.]

  11. […] vaccine, US infants in the 20th century did not die in droves from measles.  In fact, measles was considered a relatively mild disease, almost exclusively seen in three to fifteen-year-olds, with the under-three crowd protected by […]

  12. […] als harmlose Kinderkrankheit angesehen, über die man sich nicht zu viele Sorgen machen sollte (1). Das war auch die Botschaft, die im Fernsehen vor Einführung der Impfung verbreitet wurde […]

  13. […] vaccine, US infants in the 20th century did not die in droves from measles.  In fact, measles was considered a relatively mild disease, almost exclusively seen in three to fifteen-year-olds, with the under-three crowd protected by […]

  14. […] vaccine, US infants in the 20th century did not die in droves from measles.  In fact, measles was considered a relatively mild disease, almost exclusively seen in three to fifteen-year-olds, with the under-three crowd protected by […]

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