Italian Doctor Takes On Anti-Vaxx News
The anti-vaxx debate, which has spread in Italy and around the world, is believed to be a major factor in the increasing number of parents who refuse to protect their children from vaccine-preventable diseases.
To confront these anti-vaxx trends, a 56-year-old doctor has become an unlikely celebrity in Italy, and on social media.
Dr. Robert Burioni, a professor of microbiology and virology at the prestigious Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, has watched the reemergence of a preventable disease.
Dr. Burioni doesn't mince words, which is part of his appeal, reported Sky News.com
"Science is no democracy," Dr. Burioni told Sky News in an interview.
"I don't mind being curt with those who spend 5 minutes on Google and want to teach me about virology, which I have studied for 35 years," said Dr. Burioni.
Anti-vaxxers are "fools," he wrote on Twitter.
To those who dispute medical advances, Dr. Burioni says: "Go have a root canal without anesthetics".
To his supporters, he is the voice of reason seeking to reassert science over ignorance.
But to his enemies, he is an arrogant man whose aggressive tone only stifles debate.
Italy was a perfect cauldron for anti-vaxx myths. And, its impact can be measured.
In 2010, the vaccination coverage in Italy stood at 90.6 percent. But, during 2017, the vaccination rate decreased to 87.3 percent.
On November 16, 2018, Italy's Health Ministry announced a measles prevention plan that would keep obligatory vaccinations in place for children between the ages of 0-16 year-olds.
The announcement comes after a spike in the number of measles cases in Italy exceed 2,700 over the past year.
The vast majority (89%) of Italian measles cases in 2017 were reported among unvaccinated people, according to the ECDC.
According to CNN.com, the Italian government ‘says the measles outbreak is now under control and has advised the public to ensure that both doses of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine are given to children.’
The World Health Organisation warned during November 2018 ‘that measles is on the rise around the world.’
The latest WHO data indicates the measles outbreak has reached over 28 countries during 2018.
"We've all forgotten how terrible these vaccine-preventable diseases are," Dr. Burioni told Sky News.
"As a doctor, I have seen children die from measles.”
“This led me to believe that my duty as a scientist, as a citizen and as a father, was to make my voice heard.”
“And so I have."
To warn visitors traveling to Italy, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 1 Travel Alert in May 2018.
This CDC Travel Alert says ‘Travelers to Italy should make sure they are vaccinated against measles with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. People who cannot show that they were vaccinated or are otherwise protected against measles should get vaccinated before leaving the United States.’
Measles is a disease that can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia, and even death.
Measles is caused by a highly-contagious virus that is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Signs and symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, and a cough, runny nose, or red, watery eyes, says the CDC.
International travelers can easily request an MMR vaccination appointment with a local pharmacy at Vax-Before-Travel.