Ampouled death

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

MEASLES vaccine killed 3 infants at Debagram in Nadia district of West Bengal. This was confirmed by members of the inquiry committee which investigated the incident.

However, the exact cause is yet to be identified. Officials at the wHo and doctors elsewhere rule out the lethality of the polio vaccine, which was initially thought to be the culprit. But the blame has been fixed on the measles vaccine. Experts now feel that one of the causes could be that the measles vaccine could have been subjected to tempera tures not prescribed for it, thus breaking the "cold chain". However, even in such conditions the vaccine could have become ineffective, but not lethal.

The possibility that the vaccines had become contaminated due to human error has also been considered. The use of unsterilised needles for measles vaccination could have caused foreign toxic substance to enter the infants' system.

Local contamination is a possibility which requires careful examination. Doctors suggest a hairline crack on the surface of the ampoule containing the powdery measles vaccine or its dilutant may be the entry route for germs and chemicals. Contamination at the time of manufacture is also not ruled out.

One measles vaccine ampoule is used to immunise 7 children and the reported deaths of 3 strongly suggest, that particular ampoule was contaminated, and not the entire batch. Therefore the chances of death due to local contamination is the strongest.

On that fatef@l day many children, clinging on to their mother's bosom, had received the polio vaccine and some in the age group of 9-11 months were also immunised against measles. It is not known how just 3 of them got the fatal anti-measles drug.

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