Anti-vaccination movement leads to explosive increase in childhood infections in Tatarstan

A sharp increase in the incidence of whooping cough and hemophilic infection by 3,3 and 3,5 times, respectively, was registered in Tatarstan in 2019, the analytical service of Realnoe Vremya found out. The indicators for a number of other dangerous infections have increased significantly — from one and a half to two times. Experts are sure that the reason lies in the tendency to refuse vaccinations.

There is growth — there is problem

As the analytical service of Realnoe Vremya found out, the incidence of pertussis increased by 331% in Tatarstan in 2019 compared to 2018. 418 people were infected in 2019, compared to 97 in 2018. The previous jump — up to 372 cases — was registered in 2016, and in the next 2 years the figures were much lower: 63 in 2017 and 97 in 2018.

An even sharper increase in 2019 compared to the previous year was observed in the incidence of hemophilic infections — acute infectious diseases that are common mainly among children, which are caused by Bacillus influenzae. They affect the respiratory system, central nervous system and cause the appearance of suppurative focus in various organs. If in 2018 two people got sick with hemophilic infections in Tatarstan, then in 2019 — nine. In absolute numbers — it seems to be nothing terrible, but if you evaluate the growth, you can not help but ask — why? After all, for 3 years, the infection, as they say, did not raise its head.

A significant — more than twofold — jump is observed in 2019 in the incidence of viral fevers transmitted by arthropods, and viral hemorrhagic fevers with renal syndrome: from 551 cases to 1,113 and from 512 to 1,107. Given the severity of the consequences (organ damage up to disability, and even death), coupled with the fact that, unlike many infections, vaccines have not yet been invented for this type of disease, you can't help but wonder what went wrong in 2019.

Shigellosis (bacterial dysentery) also raged last year — 67 cases against 41 in 2018, and Lyme borreliosis — 51 against 35.

“This is not a disaster, but we need to take action”

“It is incorrect to operate with absolute indicators when assessing the incidence," said Dmitry Lopushov, the chief specialist of the Tatarstan ministry of healthcare in epidemiology. “It is statistically correct to estimate relative indicators — the number of cases per 100 thousand of the population. Rospotrebnadzor announced these figures for Tatarstan at the general board meeting at the beginning of the year.

The increase was observed for seven infectious diseases: whooping cough — 4,3 times, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome — 2,1 times, dysentery — by 62,8%, scarlet fever — by 50%, Lime borelliosis — by 45,1%, norovirus infection — by 37,8%, enterovirus infection — by 32,2%.

Commenting on the situation to Realnoe Vremya, Dmitry Lopushov stressed:

“This is not a disaster, but it is necessary to take measures to prevent further growth of the disease rate.

But here, as follows from his explanation, not everything depends on doctors.

Don't put it off until the day after tomorrow — it won't help

“The increase in the incidence of whooping cough is being observed throughout Russia," says Lopushov. “And this is directly related to the attitude of parents to vaccinations. In recent years, there has been a growing trend to refuse vaccinations, and a significant number of people postpone vaccinations for later, they say: let the child grow up first. But the problem is that whooping cough is most dangerous for very young children! It is no accident that the national vaccination calendar provides for inoculation against it — DTP vaccine (whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus) at 3, 6 and 18 months.

According to Lopushov, delaying vaccination often until school, parents expose the child to serious danger:

“Only a full course of vaccinations protects against infection! By the age of 6-7, even a vaccinated child's immune system runs out, and if he or adults get whooping cough, they bring the infection to the family, and there unvaccinated younger brothers and sisters get infected. The trouble is that, unlike older children, babies carry whooping cough much harder, and parents should understand that putting off the vaccination for the future, they risk their lives. And the reasons for the increase in the incidence of whooping cough in 2019 should be looked for in 2012-2013, when there was an increase in refusals from vaccinations. It's just now the result…

“Not to get a new rise in the incidence of whooping cough, it is urgently necessary to make up for the time lost for vaccinations this year in connection with measures to combat the spread of coronavirus infection," said Kadria Galeeva, the director of Lyubimy Doktor medical centre in Kazan, pediatrician, Candidate of Medical Sciences. “Experience has shown that vaccinations are necessary. We managed to normalise the situation with measles, when they began to vaccinate even the adult population. The increase in the incidence of whooping cough in 2019 is the result of the refusal of the anti-vaccinators and the increase in the number of children who are vaccinated untimely.

Whether we should be afraid of complications

The chief specialist of the Tatarstan ministry of healthcare on epidemiology told Realnoe Vremya that the government of the republic had just recently allocated additional funds to fight pertussis and other infections, and part of them will be used to purchase a vaccine against pertussis, which is used for children over 4 years old (vaccination with DTP vaccine is injected only up to 4 years of age).

Dmitry Lopushov proved the inconsistency of the arguments of the anti-vaccination supporters who do not want to expose children to “risks of complications” by referring Realnoe Vremya to the statistics of the Department of organization of the state sanitary and epidemiological surveillance system of the Russian Federation. According to them, in 2019, there were only two cases of post-vaccination complications — half as many as in 2018. In Tatarstan, more than five cases of complications over the past 5 years have not been registered. The risk of dying from, for example, whooping cough at an early age in a child is much higher, says Lopushov.

“Today, it is a crime not to vaccinate children," Kadria Galeeva stated her position even more harshly.

Get vaccinated, get dressed, wash!

Dmitry Lopushov advises those who do not want to catch tick-borne encephalitis not to go into the forest without vaccination or, at least, without thick protective clothing that excludes tick bites. But against Lyme disease transmitted by the same ticks (tick-borne borreliosis), a vaccine has not yet been invented, and the increase in the incidence of this infection in 2019 the specialist explains only by neglect of mushroom-berry pickers of elementary safety rules.

“It is necessary to wear thick clothing that does not leave open areas of skin, tuck it into boots, and in the forest every 2 hours to examine yourself and remove the detected ticks. If tick bites — the tick must be carried for study: according to its results, if necessary, the doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics to prevent borreliosis.”

There is also no vaccine for hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS). The increase in the incidence is associated with the carelessness of summer residents: no one treats the territory of gardeners' non-commercial partnerships from rodents, and the owners of country houses, coming there after the winter, forget that HFRS is transmitted by air, — without protective masks, without first airing they wash-clean the houses where the mice wintered..

“Shigellosis or dysentery is a disease of dirty hands, as well as salmonellosis and rotavirus infection, and to protect against them, vaccinations are not necessary," says Dmitry Lopushov. “The method of struggle is simple — you need to wash your hands properly when coming from the street, before eating. To wash fruits and vegetables, and always under running water . The increase in incidence is explained simply, and now there is hope that coronavirus will teach people to follow basic rules, and the incidence rates will go down.

By Inna Serova

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