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February 18, 2019

Vancouver measles outbreak linked to father who didn't vaccinate due to autism concerns – report

The infection has reportedly spread among students on school buses

Illness Measles
vancouver canada unsplash Aditya Chinchure/Unsplash

Vancouver, Canada.

A measles outbreak in Vancouver, Canada is linked to a child whose father chose not to vaccinate out of concern that the vaccine causes autism.

Emmanuel Bilodeau, the father, told CBC News that his son contracted measles when traveling to Vietnam earlier in the year, before bringing it back to Canada. There, his son apparently spread measles around two schools whose students are bused by the same company. 

Nine cases have been confirmed in the Vancouver area this month, with a clear concentration at French-language schools in the area. 

Bilodeau said none of his three children were vaccinated, due to autism concerns. The other two children became infected with measles shortly after his first son started showing symptoms and was taken to the local hospital, IFL Science reports.

RELATED READ: Anti-vaxxers listed among top global health threats for 2019

Vaccines do not cause autism, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which cites multiple studies confirming their safety. 

"We worried 10 to 12 years ago because there was a lot of debate around the MMR vaccine," Thibodeau told CBC News. "Doctors were coming out with research connecting the MMR vaccine with autism. So we were a little concerned."

The father explained that he isn't an anti-vaxxer, and now knows that there is no link to autism, but he wanted to find "a vaccine that was given in a separate shot so it wasn't such a hit on the kid,” IFL Science notes.

Bilodeau claims he took one of his sons to the British Colombia Children’s Hospital in January when he started showing measles-like symptoms. He told CBC News that medical staff were aware that the boy hadn't been vaccinated, but they ruled out measles and instead conducted tests for malaria and influenza.

But a blood test ordered by Vancouver Children’s Hospital has since confirmed his youngest son has measles, and the other two are still waiting for confirmation, Bilodeau said.

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