As Retraction Watch readers know, public health officials are concerned about a U.S. measles outbreak. As The New York Times notes:
The United States has already had more cases of measles in the first month of 2015 than the number that is typically diagnosed in a full year. This follows a year in which the number of cases was several times more than the average since 2000, when the disease was declared eliminated in the United States.
As Retraction Watch readers also know, the discredited autism-vaccines link, fears of which lead some parents to skip their kids’ vaccations, rears its ugly head periodically. Much of the related anti-vaccine movement can be tied to a 1998 study in the Lancet by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues that was eventually retracted in 2010:
Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al1 are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.2 In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.
That study, as Retro Report explains this week in the video below, has continued to have a devastating impact on the public health:
It’s an excellent — and tragic — case study in how incorrect papers can have downstream effects, and why it’s important to follow up on such retractions.