Anti-vaxxers launched an online petition calling for the release of a prominent member of their community’s four-year-old son with cerebral palsy who was found by authorities disabled and malnourished.
According to Australia’s ABC, the Newcastle boy was severely underfed and was at immediate risk of serious harm due to a strict diet of cannabis oil and plant-based foods.
“What I’m seeing is a vulnerable family who needs a lot of support with a very disabled child, who have somehow fallen into the arms of the anti-vaccination movement,” said Dr. Sue Ieraci, an Emergency physician.
Ieraci said this case highlights the dangers of anti-vaxxer groups who prey on desperate families.
“It seems to be that the child is getting thinner and thinner and the family seems to be rejecting the standard medical treatment that has kept him relatively healthy all these years,” she said. “It seems like there’s become a battle between the family and the medical system that is not benefiting the child.”
Anti-vaxxer supporters of the boy’s family claim the mother is being treated as a criminal for feeding him “naturally” and the petition has been signed by 23,000 people.
In a video optained by ABC, law enforcement can be see waiting with family services officials waiting to take him into protective custody.
“I’ve spoken to the girls from [NSW Department of Family and Community Services]. What they would like to see happen is the family puts the child in the back of the car,” a police officer tells the mother in the video. “I understand that you’re very upset about this, but we can’t leave here without the child.”
“You are and you will leave,” the mother could be heard saying. “You’re not taking my child. Over my dead body.”
According to Dr Ieraci, the online anti-vaxxer movement is fueling the debate over the young boy’s health.
“It’s very easy, as you know, on social media to stir up hysteria,” she said. “They’re constantly urging people to share and spread messages around.”
Featured image via ScienceBlogs