Statistics have shown that more people had measles infections in the first seven months of this year than during any comparable period since 1996. Public health officials are blaming this growing number of measles infections on parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children in fear of autism.

Even though multiple studies have looked for evidence that confirms the link between measles vaccines and autism, no evidence has been found so far. However, many parents don’t believe the studies and are refusing to vaccine their children at an early age against this disease.

Measles outbreaks have soared in Britain, Switzerland, Israel and Italy, sickened thousands and took at least two lives.

In the US, in the first part of the year, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have received 131 reports of measles cases from 15 states and the District of Columbia. Fifteen people, out of whom four infants, were hospitalized but luckily no deaths have been seen. Most of the measles cases were reported in people who were traveling abroad or visiting from a foreign country. In Illinois alone, 30 people were sickened in one outbreak.

Most of the people sickened were unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination status. Sixteen were infants meaning too young to be vaccinated but the rest, being 63 people, were unvaccinated because of their or their parents’ philosophical or religious beliefs.

In the last couple of years, public health advocates have become really worried over a growing number of people refusing to receive the vaccine claiming that they cause illnesses, autism in particular. When vaccination rates decline, being virulently contagious, measles is often the first vaccine-preventable disease to reappear.

Anti-vaccines advocates are unapologetic about the return of measles. They believe that autism is a treatable condition caused by vaccines and many parents would rather choose measles over autism. Pediatricians say it is an attitude they are increasingly having to deal with.

In response to parents’ concerns, manufacturers in 2001 have removed preservative containing mercury from all routinely administered childhood vaccines. However, the incidence of autism has not dropped.