COMMENTARY – What would P.T. Barnum say today? Every day brings news that there really is a sucker born every minute.

Here’s the latest evidence supporting Barnum’s claim: The British Veterinary Association saw the need to issue a statement this week that dogs cannot develop autism. Such a statement was deemed necessary due to a spreading fear that pet vaccines could cause the disease.

In other words, Fido still needs to be vaccinated against diseases like distemper and canine hepatitis.

puppy

The New York Times reported that the British TV show “Good Morning Britain” asked to hear from dog owners who believed their pets showed symptoms of autism after receiving vaccinations, and from others who had stopped getting their pets vaccinated against dangerous diseases.

That prompted the British Veterinary Association’s attempt to stop the foolishness. The battle – that vaccines cause autism – is similar to the one human doctors and health officials have been fighting for two decades.

That’s when the medical journal The Lancet published an article that theorized a link between autism and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination. The study has been thoroughly discredited by every legitimate health organization. Yet, well… there are a lot of parents putting their children at risk.

Due to the anti-vaccine movement – supported by some high-profile Hollywood types with the same medical credentials as Old Blue – measles is becoming a world-wide problem again. The World Health Organization issued a report that noted 21,000 measles cases and 35 deaths in Europe last year.

Arthur L. Caplan, professor and head of the Division of Medical Ethics at the School of Medicine at New York University, says that measles cases and outbreaks have occurred this year in California, Kansas and New York.

“In an age of air travel, this puts every unvaccinated American child at risk,” Caplan wrote in an opinion for the Seattle Times. “In Texas, more than 50,000 children currently receive nonmedical exemptions, with some schools having up to 30-40 percent of their children not vaccinated.”

Caplan notes the rise in vaccine refusal is fueled by well-organized anti-vaccine groups that promote misinformation and lies about vaccines. He believes parents who are duped by anti-vaccine groups are “violating children’s rights to health, welfare and equal opportunity.”

Refusing to vaccinate Fido or Fluffy may not fall into the same ethical quandary, but certainly provides evidence that while autism can’t jump species, ignorance of vaccines can.

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