Chief health officer takes aim at misinformation in measles outbreak

The country's chief public health officer is urging her fellow doctors to answer questions from concerned parents about vaccinating their children to head off the spread of measles.

Dr. Theresa Tam says that some parents have come to fear the prevention of measles more than the disease itself, citing seeds of doubt planted by ``misleading, or worse, entirely false information'' online.

In a lengthy statement Tuesday, Tam says health care providers on the front lines of the battle between truth and misinformation need to help parents navigate fact from fiction.

So far, 17 cases of measles have been identified in Metro Vancouver and linked to French schools in an outbreak that started three weeks ago.

Wrapped up in the outbreak is an anti-vaccination movement with proponents known as anti-vaxxers, who argue the measles, mumps and rubella or MMR vaccine causes autism even in the face of science that has debunked the claim.

Last week, Health Canada issued an advisory warning about ``false claims'' around homeopathic remedies, known as nosodes, as an alternative to vaccines.