After disappearing from his family’s site, Sears tells Facebook fans that measles outbreaks not “much risk” for infants

On Friday, I wrote two posts about how the “vaccine” forum section on AskDrSears.com had been removed: “Is ‘Dr. Bob’ Sears moving away from his profitable anti-vaccine pandering?” and “Does this mean no more ‘Dr. Bob’ Sears photo-ops with Andrew Wakefield?” In the first post, I noted that two years ago, when I emailed Sears asking for an interview for my book, The Panic Virus, one of his representatives wrote back asking if I wanted to advertise on AskDrSears.com. The pricing, she said, was tied to the “specifically targeted audience” the site received due to the popularity of Sears’s best-selling The Vaccine Book, which contains such nuggets as “Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Are Not That Bad” and “Natural Infection is Better Than Vaccination.” It also advises parents worried about vaccines to “Hide in the Herd”: “When dealing with anxious parents,” Sears writes, “I warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Later on Friday, a reader pointed out that Sears himself seemed as flummoxed as I was about his family’s website’s sudden shift in emphasis. Friday afternoon, at almost the precise time I was putting up my posts, Sears posted this message on his Facebook page:

Huh? “It looks like”? What in the heck is that supposed to mean?

Thus far, Sears hasn’t answered my queries…but some clues can be found in poking around the redesigned site, which showcases the entire Sears family: “Dr. Bill” and Martha Sears and their sons, “Dr. Jim,” “Dr. Bob,” and “Dr. Pete.” In the site’s earlier iteration, Bob Sears’s picture was the largest and his bio was the longest; now, he’s a spectral presence. The advertising that had previously run down the right-hand margin of the page has also disappeared — there are no more pitches for Vital Choice Wild Seafood (which Sears had praised as “my favorite salmon!”) or Meyenberg Goat Milk Products.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to buy: the e-commerce section of the Sears site still does still sell “beverages,” “snacks,” “supplements,” and “baby care.” There are also the books that make up the Sears Parenting Library…and this is where things get really weird: Bob Sears’s name has literally been wiped off of the covers of books he had previously been given co-author credit for. Check out the cover of The Baby Book as it appears on Amazon:

And compare that to what’s currently on AskDrSears.com:

In fact, none of the books on which Bob Sears is the primary author–including The Vaccine Book, The Autism Book, Happy Baby, or Father’s First Steps–are listed on the Sears site at all, and the links at the bottom of Bob Sears’s bio page produce “Page Not Found” messages.

Sears sudden absence from his family’s online forums does not, unfortunately, mean that he’s stopped delivering his anti-vaccine messages to his fans. The first question he received on Facebook was from the mother of a 27-month-old girl who has not received the MMR vaccine. There had, the mother said, been recent measles outbreaks in the area in which she lived — so what should she do? “I don’t see the current outbreaks as much risk,” Sears replied, “but it’s up to you.”

Wow. So far this year, there have been more measles infections in the US than in any year since 1996. Eighty-nine percent of all infections are in people who are unvaccinated — and 52% of the hospitalizations are in children under five years old. Here’s a mother who says she lives in an area with outbreaks…and Sears is telling her she doesn’t see much risk? (Sears’s cavalier approach towards measles infections directly led to the 2008 San Diego measles outbreak, which began when one Sears’s deliberately unvaccinated patients was infected while on vacation in Switzerland.)

Facebook isn’t the only place where Sears is dispensing his potentially dangerous advice — on a Mothering.com forum, he tells the mother of a one-year-old that “most cases [of measles] get through the disease withOUT complications.” (To be fair, maybe he doesn’t view hospitalization as a “complication.”) He also claims the total number of infections in 2011 will “only be less than 200″ (there will almost certainly be well over 350 — there were 118 cases in the first third of the year alone) and that there are 150 million people living in America (the total is well over 300 million).

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28 Responses to After disappearing from his family’s site, Sears tells Facebook fans that measles outbreaks not “much risk” for infants

  1. Catherina says:

    Well, at least moms are clueing in – on Facebook a mother says

    “My 86 yr old mother would kick your butt from here to next Sunday Dr Bob. I had measles related pneumonia when I was 4 and they didn’t think I was going to survive.
    How can you possibly say there is not much risk when the US is currently experiencing the worst measles epidemic since 1966″

    On Mothering, one of the senior posters got seriously upset with Bob and posted:

    “Please stop talking down to me. I apparently know a lot more about this one particular subject than you do. I’m not meaning to come across as arrogant, and I know PCPs know a lot more about other health issues than I do. But at least pretend for a moment that I didn’t post this without knowing what h influenzae type b is. (Also Hif, Hie, etc.)”

    My prediction is that Bob will go down the Wakefield road now…

    • Matt Carey says:

      “My prediction is that Bob will go down the Wakefield road now…”

      Mr. Wakefield’s latest media interview, per google news alert:

      “On tonight’s Sovereign Independent Radio broadcast our hosts Simon Murphy and Dave Derby will interview Dr. Andrew Wakefield whose study into the links between the MMR vaccine and autism led to a witch hunt by the General Medical Council in the UK leading to him being struck of the medical register.

      We’ll also be talking to Richard Gage, the founder of AE911truth who will be giving us a brief outline of the real reasons behind the collapses of the Twin Towers and Building 7 on September 11th 2001″

      Yes, he’s the opening act for a 911 truther. If he feels he has any credibility left, why is he lending it to this effort?

  2. Mary says:

    Doctor Bob needs to see this: http://xkcd.com/558/

    And thanks to the anti-vaxxers, my 40+ year old immune system needs to be boosted before my summer vacation. I have to now burden the medical system for an appointment with the travel clinic for an MMR booster. I have to take my time and theirs for something that should have been completely unnecessary.

  3. I concur with doctor Sears. Measles, no big deal.

    • Mara says:

      The kids who died of measles before the vaccine would agree with you, I’m sure. It was totally no big deal to get encephalitis and meningitis.

      And the folks in other countries who are getting pneumonia and croup and hepatitis right now would agree too. Being hospitalized is awesome, yo! I’m sure all of the hospitals around the world are like a spa. You can probably get a pedicure to go along with your impaired kidney function.

      Whoops, I need to go wipe all that sarcasm off my keyboard now, before it gets sticky.

      • It’s amazing how, with ~ 4 million cases of the illness in the prevaccine era, there were only ~450 deaths and only 1-83 hospitalizations. And these deaths and hospitalizations occurred primarily as a result of poor living conditions, compromised immune systems and medical mismanagement.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2491276/pdf/bullwho00062-0097.pdf

        • Krista F. says:

          The website you posted states that there are one million deaths per year due to measles, that’s a pretty scary number!

        • Mara says:

          Um, that’s not actually what the article you link to says. It says that there is a hypothesis that measles deaths are a result of poor hygiene, etc., but they go on to say that studies show that only some of those factors have an effect and there is still a significantly higher death rate later in children who had measles.

          What you’ve claimed is close to the opposite of what that article says. ::shrug::

          • Krista, it’s scary if you live in Africa.

          • You’re confused, The connection between living conditions and measles mortality is well established. The hypothesis about which you refer is to whether or not measles vaccination does much good because those who would have died of the measles will now die of something else

            Form UNICEF
            Susceptibility to measles is compounded by poor nutrition and transmission is rapid where living conditions are crowded, resulting in a high death rate.

            and the Red Cross

            But in places where health conditions are extremely poor, living conditions are more than difficult, and access to health care is minimal, measles can kill.

        • Mara says:

          Let’s take a step back and look at that number 450. “Only 450 deaths” per year, you say. “Only” is an interesting choice of word because that’s fine, unless your kid or your wife or you happen to be one of those 450.

          I have two children who I love more than anything and anyone in the world. (Not to mention my husband and parents and sister and cousins and…) And maybe we don’t live in Africa, but I’m not willing to take the chance that someone else’s kids and family and friends make up the entire 450 deaths each year.

          We can prevent these deaths. Even if it’s “only” 450 people, those people are worth saving.

  4. Lawrence says:

    Robert or should I say “Sid” don’t you have anything better to do than praying for a return of childhood diseases?

    Why exactly are you so pro-disease?

  5. Jill says:

    Well, I guess the rest of the Sears clan just started to realize how dangerous “Dr. Bob” and his unscientific recommendations actually are. It’s about time! Too bad Dr. Bob wasn’t given a bill for the $180,000 the San Diego public health investigation cost, and bills for the cost of the medical care and hospitalization of the children that contracted measles in his office. His license should be revoked NOW.

  6. Laura says:

    I was just messing around on the site and saw this: “Attachment parenting is like immunizing your child against emotional diseases later on.” They just compared APing to vaccinating like trying to prevent terrible diseases is a good thing?! Fascinating.

    http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/discipline-behavior

  7. Melbo says:

    It is amazing to me that people in the western world can so blithely dismiss these diseases as innocuous. It is easy to sit back and think you are safe because you live in a “clean” environment, eat all the right foods that this is sufficient protection against anything. These germs have scant respect for your healthy lifestyle, I assure you.

    Perhaps also you might like to talk to people whose children have permanent disabilities as a result of getting these supposedly harmless diseases? There is a reason the vaccines were developed in the first place and it isn’t just because people died.

    • Chris says:

      Like my son. But apparently I am considered a “Pharma Shill” just for mentioning he had seizures and ended up in the ER, and has a permanent disability due to a now vaccine preventable disease.

      • Mara says:

        I wish the pharmaceutical industry would pay me for this :) I’d be happy to quit my day job and spend my day roaming the Internet explaining that people are wrong wrong wrong.

        • Catherina says:

          Mara – me too, if you find a drug overlord, please share ;)

          • Mara says:

            I’m feeling really left out. Big Pharma hasn’t sent me any checks, the Gay Conspiracy won’t send me their handbook, and the Jewish World Conspiracy won’t return my calls.

            What did I do wrong? ;)

    • Twyla says:

      Melbo, perhaps also you might like to talk to people whose children have permanent disabilities as a result of getting these supposedly harmless vaccines?

      Yes, some of the diseases we vaccinate against are dangerous, but some less so. For example:
      - Hepatitis B only affects newborns whose mothers are carriers. This is the most extreme example of our vaccine program’s skewed weighing of risks and benefits.
      - Rotavirus is more of a problem in third world countries. In the US, most people fight it off with a mild case of diarrhea.
      The problem is, when you keep loading more vaccines onto an already crowded schedule the risk of adverse reactions increases, while the payback of prevention decreases when diseases are either extremely rare or usually harmless.

      Here’s what I don’t understand. The logic seems to be: Diseases are dangerous, therefore vaccines are good, therefore adverse reactions to vaccines either didn’t happen or should be ignored. This is not science, not good medicine. This is extremely simplistic.

      • Chris says:

        Then why are there children who get Hepatitis B with no known reason? One reason is that it is passed through saliva, and kids can be exposed.

        One place to read about it is a group of parents who started an organization for their children with hepatitis b: http://www.pkids.org/immunizations/HBV_kids_infect_kids.html

        You also don’t know the first thing about rotavirus. Because you spread so much misinformation, we will assume you are always wrong unless you provide valid references to support your statements. The references should not include links to your favorite blogs, news reports of random press releases. Just list the journal, title, date and authors of the papers that support your statements.

        Now, I ask again: when and what were the last science or math classes you attended?

        • Twyla says:

          It’s extremely rare for children to get Hep B with no known reason — too rare to justify giving the Hep B vaccine to newborns.

      • Tsu Dho Nimh says:

        - hepatitis b only affects newborns whose mothers are carriers.

        WRONG! About 30% of children who are diagnosed with hepatitis b have none of the usual risk factors – mother negative, father negative, no transfusions, no tattoos, no unprotected sex …

        “Body fluids” include saliva. The source of infection for these children is probably other children, sharing spit-covered toys or drooling on each other.

        Childhood infections often turn chronic, with the children serving as silent carriers. They also are likely to trigger liver cancer at an early age.

        So getting your child the HepB vaccine protects the child from an early, nasty death from liver cancer.

  8. tinkerbel says:

    Twyla I certainly don’t live in a 3rd World country and my son ended up in hospital on drips and monitors as a 3 year old with rotavirus. I thought I was going to lose him. He was a very sick little boy.

    I’m so pleased there is a vaccine now so other children and parents don’t have to go through what we did.

    • Mara says:

      Oh wow, that sounds horrible :(

      My kids were both in the NICU and even though they were basically healthy, looking at them wired and tubed and whatnot was scary as hell. I cried every single night of the weeks they were there.

      Nobody in the First or Third World should have to go through what you did. Not when we can stop it so easily.

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