The same Russian social media trolls accused of meddling in the 2016 US election may be to blame for the deadly measles outbreak across Europe last year, according to a new report.
Scientists believe the St. Petersburg troll farm also pumped out anti-vaccination propaganda, contributing to the outbreak that killed 72 people and infected more than 82,000, Radio Free Europe reported.
In a study published by the American Public Health Association in September, researchers examined the trolls’ online messages from July 2014 through September 2017 and concluded that their posts were responsible for “eroding public consensus on vaccination.”
Vaccination hesitancy is now one of the top 10 threats to global health, according to the World Health Organization.
Measles — which was close to being eradicated in many countries — has seen a 30 percent increase globally.
“The reasons for this rise are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy,” the WHO noted. “However, some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence.”