To be confused about the measles epidemic in Wales?

(110 Posts)
Reallynothappy Thu 09-May-13 11:11:28

I've started seeing some comments on news articles about the epidemic, that there are nowhere near as many actual confirmed cases of measles as were originally reported; many lab samples have returned a negative result for measles, and that the poor man who died from measles had an inconclusive post mortem, and apparently didn't have measles after all.
I don't doubt measles can have serious complications and is very unpleasant, before anyone thinks I don't understand that.
Has anyone on mn been affected by this current outbreak that can give us an idea what the situation is for them?
If many of these people who originally were thought to have measles turned out not to, then what did they have?
There is clearly an outbreak of something, but it doesn't seem to be just measles.

jacks365 Thu 09-May-13 13:49:49

Actually if you compare last years lab confirmed cases to this years for Jan Feb and March then it does show a significant increase.

MrsHoarder Thu 09-May-13 13:53:13

That's not a discrepancy, that's an outbreak starting in late march/early April.

Pigsmummy Thu 09-May-13 13:57:36

I think doctors would likely diagnose rather than test every case now, as they did with swine flu? With that they only tested for first few weeks then if you had the right symptoms you were just given tamiflu. saved a load of cash.

Reallynothappy Thu 09-May-13 14:00:13

I'm not dropping hints. I posted two links, from reputable sites, with a huge discrepancy in cases. That I find confusing, and I wanted to see if anyone there had any insight. No one has come on who has had a confirmed case within their family or immediate circle, to give their view, so I guess I'm no wiser. Sorry if you felt I was hinting at something. I'm genuinely confused and wish to understand the situation further.

Reallynothappy Thu 09-May-13 14:01:00

The outbreak started last Nov according to reports.

gordyslovesheep Thu 09-May-13 14:02:52

no one link was for lab tested samples ...

okay - some thing thought to be measles turned out to be viral rashes

some measles cases where sampled and found to be measles, some where not measles

many measles cases wont be sent to the lab

Pigsmummy Thu 09-May-13 14:03:38

If the figures are only up to march then that might be the difference? Also not every case will have been tested by labs.

In South East England there is a Coxasckie outbreak but they wouldn't test every potential case of that either.

jacks365 Thu 09-May-13 14:04:01

The population of Wales is over 3 million so the number of cases is a small percentage so not knowing anyone is not surprising but still any rise is a worry.

Reallynothappy Thu 09-May-13 14:05:47

I'm not doubting there is a significant increase, that is documented. It is the 26 cases v over 1000.
Of the samples that were sent for lab testing, the majority came back as negative for measles.

SDeuchars Thu 09-May-13 14:08:37

Here are some figures going back to 1940 in E&W. This would indicate that 1000 is not "the largest outbreak for some years".

A separate document shows measles notifications (confirmed cases) for 1995-2012. (I'm ignoring the 18 months from mid-2010 to 2011 because the numbers are messed up.) In 2009, 5263 cases were notified, 4471 (85%) were tested and 876 (16.6%) were confirmed.

Combining both sets of data, in 2007, 3700 cases were notified, 89% were tested, 16.9% were confirmed and there was 1 death. Almost all measles-attributed deaths since 1992 have been caused in older people by the late effects of infections acquired during epidemics in the 1980s or earlier (i.e. they were not in children who had only just contracted measles).

To me, this suggests that the hysteria since November is not warranted. Although measles can be dangerous, it is also rare.

jacks365 Thu 09-May-13 14:08:59

You don't test for measles if it is clear that that is the problem. You only test where there is any doubt.

MabliD Thu 09-May-13 14:10:38

I know 3 people who have had the measles diagnosis (adult, two kids) all were doctor diagnosed no samples taken for lab testing or anything like that, luckily all mild cases. If anecdotal evidence helps!

AtYourCervix Thu 09-May-13 14:17:10

I suspect ebola.

SDeuchars Thu 09-May-13 14:19:33

jacks365, I don't think that is true. Measles is notifiable and I don't think they'd test over 80% of cases if they were only testing in cases of doubt.

EglantinePrice Thu 09-May-13 14:24:35

Coxsackie is not a potentially lethal, notifiable disease pigsmummy so I don't really see the comparison. There is no vaccine so it wouldn't change anything anyway.

I certainly think OP, that before running scaremongering headlines (look where that got us in the past) the media should attempt to report accurate, honest and transparent information. Not create mistrust and uncertainty by making claims that maybe aren't quite true.

noblegiraffe Thu 09-May-13 14:27:12

Sdeuchars something's not right with those figures because as you've calculated, in 2009 876 cases were confirmed. But if you go to the linked document 'laboratory confirmed cases' it says that in 2009 there were 1144 laboratory confirmed cases of measles confused

jacks365 Thu 09-May-13 14:30:32

Yes measles has to be notified however that does not mean it has to be tested. Its common for it to be tested when rates are lower and 3700 in England over 12 months is a much lower rate than 1000 in 5 months in Wales, add to that the very sudden increase in numbers over the last 2 months and testing does go out of the window.

PipkinsPal Thu 09-May-13 14:30:35

It doesn't matter how many case of measles have been actually diagnosed. People have been diagnosed with measles, a notifiable disease and the amount of people who have been coming forward for the MMR jab now, children and adults alike, shows that they haven't been immunised. I'm sure the take up for MMR would increase if the newspapers stopped showing pictures of a syringe with the article and instead showed a poorly child plastered in a measles rash.

PipkinsPal Thu 09-May-13 14:35:19

BTW forgot to mention that I live in S Wales and work in a GP surgery. Cases have and are being diagnosed but as far as I am aware no samples are sent to the lab each time but the Doctors have to notify Public Health.

SparkleToffee Thu 09-May-13 14:53:03

MY DD had measles when she was 11mo and was diagnosed via GP and Hospital. (This was 3 years ago). Pipkins - they didnt diagnose but DoH sent us a swab in the post for me to do.... so maybe this is the way the samples have been tested?

MamaMumra Thu 09-May-13 15:23:50

You don't test for measles if it is clear that that is the problem. You only test where there is any doubt.

Measles in a notifiable disease, so all suspected cases are reported immediately but also a lab test is required also.

It was my impression that a notifiable disease had to be swabbed to be confirmed.

Years ago ds1 had a measles type rash & cough (& rash came up in the right order for measles). I rang OOH. Was told to come down. Was put in a very crowded waiting room, told reception this might not be sensible so was put in a room with a baby hmm

Saw doctor. Who said 'can't be measles he's been vaccinated'. I pointed out it doesn't always work. He said 'he's not ill enough for it to be measles'. I pointed out that in the case of a partial vaccine failure you can get a milder dose but still be infectious (which was why I was there) he just shrugged.

The words arse and elbow spring to mind.

But yes OP I have been confused by the figures as well and asked on another thread. Was suggested that we just need to wait a bit longer to find out the real figures.

hazeyjane Thu 09-May-13 16:07:08

I don't think that they do, Saintly. I asked when dd1 had scarlet fever, and the hospital said that they didn't need to.

MrsHoarder Thu 09-May-13 16:31:46

Saintly they don't swab everyone in an outbreak, just a proportion. And if its done by lay people a high proportion of false negatives isn't surprising.

ipswitch Thu 09-May-13 16:39:47

I remember a well reported mumps outbreak few years ago, and the public health scare that followed it. GPs started diagnosing mumps right left and centre at all sore throat type ilnesses. I was working at a GPs and suspected cases were not swabbed or tested, just diagnosed on clinical suspicion.

I suspect the same has happened in Wales with the measles "epidemic"

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