He thought vaccines cause autism, then his kids contracted measles and triggered an outbreak

According to health officials, the city of Vancouver is facing a measles outbreak with eight confirmed cases so far. Officials have traced the outbreak to a single family, whose father admitted that he didn’t vaccinate his children out of fears that they would be at risk for autism.

Speaking to CBC NewsEmmanuel Bilodeau said he and his ex-wife used to believe debunked claims that the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is linked to autism.

“We worried 10-12 years ago because there was a lot of debate around the MMR vaccine,” said Bilodeau. “Doctors were coming out with research connecting the MMR vaccine with autism. So we were a little concerned.”​​

Bilodeau went on to say that although he now knows the vaccine-autism link is fraudulent, claiming that he and his family are “not anti-vaccination.”

“We’re just very cautious parents and we just tried to do it in the manner that was the least invasive possible on the child’s health,” he said.

From CBC News:

Bilodeau believes one of his three sons contracted measles during a family trip to Vietnam earlier this year and that it has since spread at the French-language schools his children attend.

His other two sons started showing symptoms soon after, but it took several trips to the hospital before it was determined measles was the culprit although Bilodeau says he mentioned the possibility to doctors.

Since disgraced pediatrician Andrew Wakefield‘s fraudulent study linking vaccines to autism in children was roundly debunked, numerous studies since then have reinforced the fact that there is no link between vaccinations and the developmental disorder. But that hasn’t stopped a massive movement of vaccine denialists originating from Wakefield’s original followers from spreading across the globe.

The Vancouver outbreak comes in the wake of numerous vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks around the U.S. Late last month, the state of Washington declared a state of emergency after a measles outbreak that infected around 35 people. The areas affected by the outbreak were known to be anti-vaccination “hot spots.”  This fall, New York faced its most severe measles outbreak in decades, which was centered in the state’s ultra-orthodox Jewish communities.

Globally, measles is a leading cause of death for children, killing an average of 246 children under age 5 every day. The disease can also lead to severe complications such as swelling of the brain or blindness.

Featured image via cdc.gov

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