Current Measles Outbreak Tied to Anti-Immunization Sentiments

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I was shocked to learn earlier this week that a measles outbreak had been identified in Texas.  I was not surprised to find that the epicenter of the outbreak was in a religious community which encouraged prayer over immunization.

vaccine

Image: Vaccine via Shutterstock

Once a Common Danger

When I was young, measles was one of the "childhood diseases" that every person seemed to get sooner or later.  For me it was later, and I remember having a very nasty couple of weeks with it in the 7th or 8th grade.  There was a distinct scent associated with the disease that was not pleasant. I was covered, head to toe, inside and out with the rash.  I had a high fever.  It lasted for days and days and days.  A half a million people a year got the measles when I was a kid.  Before the recent anti-vaccination momentum, the number of cases per year in the U.S. was down to 63.

Complications that can develop from the measles includes:

I think we have forgotten how dangerous such diseases are.

I cannot imagine forgoing immunization for my child.   My daughter was among the last, I hope, to have chicken pox. The immunization became available the year after she contracted the disease.  Thank heavens she had a mild case of chicken pox, and that she did not have to experience the measles, mumps, or rubella.  I had her immunized for everything our pediatrician recommended.

I understood there was a possibility that reactions to immunization could happen.  I also understood that the risk factors for having the diseases was greater than the risk factors associated with immunization. 

Being a bit of a science nerd, I checked out the facts in the university library where I worked when my daughter was little. Now with access to government information via the Internet, finding out facts is so simple that I don't understand why parents don't rely on legitimate medical information that is freely and readily available.

Still a Danger

How serious is measles?

Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. In the United States in 2011, 38% of children younger than 5 years old who had measles had to be treated in the hospital.

For some children, measles can lead to pneumonia, a serious lung infection. It can also cause lifelong brain damage, deafness, and even death. One to three out of 1,000 children in the U.S. who get measles will die from the disease, even with the best care. About 150,000 to 175,000 people die from measles each year around the world—mostly in places where children do not get the measles vaccine.

----  This information is from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention.)

The on-going outbreak in Texas is traced to an individual who developed the disease after returning from travel Indonesia.

153 people contracted the measles so far in the U.S. this year.  The 20+ number of individuals in the current Texas outbreak is expected to grow.

You May Be at Risk

Around 20 years ago standard immunization schedules began to include a second shot for measles and the MMR booster for 4- to 5-year-old children as a follow-up to the first shot received around 12 months of age. 

Individuals who only received one immunization are probably still susceptible to contracting the measles.  Chief epidemiologist for the Tarrant County Public Health Department, Russell Jones, told UPI that,  "People who [have] already graduated from high school probably missed the second shot," Jones added. "If they are healthcare workers or traveling abroad, they need to get that second shot." 

The 21st person identified as having the measles in the Texas community was a healthcare worker who received one shot only before the current schedule for 12 months and 4 to 5 years became routine.

Health officials say all cases trace to the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas.
Please let me make it clear that I am not church bashing; just ignorance bashing.  There is a trend in many distinct communities, not all are religious communities, in the U.S. to blame immunizations for the rise in cases of autism.

Autism and Immunizations

Immunization does not cause autism.  You can read the CDC information that debunks the dangerous popular myth that links them.  This came about due to one UK study that has since been retracted by the journal and by most of its authors that published the research findings that suggested that autism might be related to immunization.  Hundreds of other studies have found no linkage between the two.  The single most common reason the false causation continues to be believed in and spread as truth in many groups is that the age at which immunizations begin and the age at which the symptoms of autism first appear are the same.

We do not know why the rates of autism have grown exponentially, but my own totally unscientific suspicions would be far more likely to fall upon environmental pollutants such as insecticides, pesticides, drugs, metals, and fertilizers that make their way into our water supplies though they are known to be toxic and cannot easily be filtered from water.

What Can You Do?

  • Get the facts.  Click the CDC links above.
  • Get your children immunized per your pediatrician's advice.
  • Check with your physician to see if you need a second shot if you don't know if you were immunized and did not have the measles.
  • Encourage others to act from informed positions and act in their children's best interests per the best scientific information available to us.
  • Support the efforts of Shot@Life and its Partners.

Nancy

Blog: Reason Creek

Recent Posts by Nancy Hill

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