URBAN MYTHS::TB isn’t on the increase, and measles isn’t a killer

Health enjoys more than its fair share of urban myths. One, that is repeated almost parrot-fashion by anyone you might meet, is that TB is on the increase. Like most urban myths, it’s not true, of course – in fact, according to the latest figures, TB rates are falling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that, in 2004, rates fell by 3.3 per cent on the previous year, and incidence of TB is now at its lowest level recorded since records began in 1953.
And here’s another myth: measles is a killer disease, and it’s one that is on the increase. The source of this myth is easier to locate: it comes from the medical establishment that is trying to scare parents into vaccination programmes, especially in countries such as the UK where worries about the safety of the MMR vaccine has caused vaccination levels to fall to new lows.
But the evidence doesn’t support doctors’ fears. A combined review, by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), looked at the statistics from 45 countries and discovered that deaths from measles fell by 39 per cent in 2003 compared with rates for 1999.

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