Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

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  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:30

    Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    Many moons ago now, but a reminder of why measles is worth avoiding.

    MEASLES

    A dangerous illness by

    ROALD DAHL

    Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn't do anything.

    "Are you feeling all right?" I asked her.

    "I feel all sleepy, " she said.

    In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.

    The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her.

    That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.

    On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.

    It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness. Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk.

    In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.

    Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year.

    Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another. At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die.

    LET THAT SINK IN.

    Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.

    So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised? They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.

    So what on earth are you worrying about?

    It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.

    The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible.

    Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was James and the Giant Peach'. That was when she was still alive. The second was 'The BFG', dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children.

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:34

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    Oh my, that has really choked me Sad 

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:34

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    That made me cry Cry.  Excellent post though Zoay, I agree wholeheartedly.

     

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:37

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    That's very thought provoking.

    Maybe it might help a vaccination campaign to have this piece of writing publised into a poster.

     

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:37

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    Cry

    I wish all parents could read that.

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:38

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    To my mind I can't imagine a bigger fear than putting a child's life at risk, that they may die of measles etc, when you weigh that up against immunisation why do people fear immunisation.

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:40

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    Thanks for posting this x
  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:44

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    I never knew that about Roald DahlCry

    This is a good post Zoay and a reminder to those who haven't yet immunised.

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:46

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    What a wonderful piece of writing. Finlay has recently had measles (Caught the week before he had his MMR) and it was so, so horrible. I'm just so thankful he had a relatively mild case. I'm going to forward this on to all my email contacts.

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:50

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    Thank you Zoay, I hope it persuades/reminds some people to get it done.

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 20:53

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    Zoay, I have been meaning to ask this for a while. If your wee one is immunised is it 100% effective? If they came into contact with a non immunised child who had measles (or something else covered by the vaccinations) could they catch it or would they be OK?

     

     

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 21:03

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    CrySo sad.

    Even sadder to know that there was that least one case of measles encephalitis in north London last year (or year before?) that could have been prevented.

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 21:07

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    Goodness, it's just heartbreaking reading that. I knew that he had lost a daughter but didn't realise it was to measles. What a waste of a little life and how awful for her parents to lose her. This topic makes me so so cross, I'm on another forum where I was nearly in tears through frustration in reading some of the posts about not immunising, because of 'overloading their system' and the 'link' to autism.

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 21:07

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    Mal:

    Zoay, I have been meaning to ask this for a while. If your wee one is immunised is it 100% effective? If they came into contact with a non immunised child who had measles (or something else covered by the vaccinations) could they catch it or would they be OK?

     

     

     

    Not Zoay obv.  But from what I understand the first MMR gives something like 90% protection. The preschool booster gives increased cover (though not sure if full 100%) My boy caught Mumps 2 years ago, aged 2.5 so had had the first MMR but not the booster.

    From reading threads on here, I believe some areas with high outbreaks of measles are currently calling children earlier for their boosters.

  • Posted: 2 Mar 2009 21:15

    Re: Roald Dahl's daughter and measles (sens)

    So very sad.

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