An anti-vaccination picture book has been harshly criticized for targeting impressionable children with its highly controversial message.
Stephanie Messenger’s “Melanie’s Marvelous Measles” was written to show children the supposed “benefits of having measles” and outlines natural healing methods, such as eating fruits and vegetables.
In the book, Melanie contracts measles despite being vaccinated; whereas, her unvaccinated friend Tina is not infected with the virus even though they happily hug each other and play together.
This scenario would be unlikely. The virus is so contagious that 90 percent of people who are not vaccinated will be infected if exposed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Jennifer Lighter Fisher, an infectious disease specialist at New York University Langone Medical Center’s Department of Pediatrics, says that in theory, the disease could be eradicated from the planet because humans are the only species affected by it.
“Measles really is a devastating illness, and it’s completely preventable. The vaccine is very efficacious,” she said in an interview with Yahoo News.
Clearly, Messenger is highly skeptical of the overwhelming scientific consensus on this issue.
“Often today, we are being bombarded with messages from vested interests to fear all diseases in order for someone to sell some potion or vaccine,” Messenger writes in a book description, “when, in fact, history shows that in industrialized countries, these diseases are quite benign and, according to natural health sources, beneficial to the body.”
Messenger, of Brisbane, Queensland, said she wanted to show children, ages 4 to 10, that vaccinations are ineffective and that measles can supposedly be fun.
Not surprisingly, reviews of the book on Amazon.com have been mostly negative.
“Dangerous, misleading and borderline child abuse,” one customer wrote. “There are very few medical procedures as well understood and as safe as vaccinations.”
Another commented, “Isn’t Melanie lucky that she didn’t get pneumonia from her measles like 1 in 15 children (7%) do? I had measles when I was a toddler in the 1950s before there was a measles vaccine available. I was in [a] hospital in an oxygen tent for over a week with bilateral pneumonia when I had measles. That is a much more frightening experience for a toddler than an injection.”
“I am going to be certain to get a copy of this book for my aunt,” another wrote. “Measles was so marvelous to her that she lost her hearing due to complications from it and has been deaf since childhood.”
One user facetiously gave the book five stars and suggested, “Check out these other fine titles from the same author” if you enjoyed the book. Then he ran off a slew of parody titles, including Annette’s Astonishing Aneurysm, Carol’s Colorful Chlamydia, Dave’s Darling Deformity, Larry’s Lovely Lymphoma, Scott’s Scrumptious Scabies, Wendy’s Wonderful War Wound, and many more.
The book’s mere existence was met with widespread incredulity on Twitter, as well.
So "Melanie's Marvelous Measles" is a antivax childbook that exists. No word on when the accompanying "Paul's Peachy Polio" will be dropped.
— Dennis (@dennisthecynic) February 6, 2015
There's a children's book called Melanie's Marvelous Measles so can I really be expected to care about the world since it's clearly doomed?
— Emma Cueto (@Emma_Cueto) February 6, 2015
Its title is an apparent parody of Roald Dahl’s “George’s Marvelous Medicine,” likely mocking his 1988 plea to other parents to vaccinate their children against measles 26 years after losing his eldest daughter, Olivia, to the disease.
“I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days, a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered,” he wrote. “Today, a good and safe vaccine is available to every family, and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.”
The contagious disease used to be common in the United States but had been declared officially eradicated from the country by 2000.
Scientists attribute the success in whipping out this disease to higher rates of vaccination.
However, the anti-vaccination movement, which is fueled by debunked research that erroneously linked vaccines with autism, led to rising numbers in recent years.
The CDC says there are at least 102 confirmed measles cases in 2015. Of those, 94 are related to an outbreak at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Fisher says that before the vaccine, over 95 percent of the world population got measles, and 2.6 million died from the disease globally. Thanks to vaccinations, she said, a significantly reduced number — 146,000 people — died of measles globally in 2013.