July 11, 2008

Wow, 10 Years Flew By Fast, Thanks Jenny McCarthy!

Earlier this week I blogged about the U.K.'s return to endemic measles status, which can be traced back to one man, Andrew Wakefield (the U.K. forced him to move, and guess where he ended up? Texas!). At the same time I told Jenny McCarthy to "pack her shit up and head to Europe where people have already decided to stop vaccinating their children," but it looks as if I spoke too soon.

On the back of the 'vaccines cause autism and I don't care what your fucking science says cause moms know best' crusade there has been a decline in childhood vaccination, and guess what happened?

In the U.S. since May, 127 cases of confirmed measles in 15 states has been confirmed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has traced the outbreak to travelers who became sick overseas and then returned to the U.S. and infected others.

This is significant because in 1963 a vaccination campaign began in the U.S. to eliminate measles, endemic spread of the disease was halted in the 1980's and in 2000 the ongoing transmission of the virus was declared eliminated!

But here we are again, because people who have lived privileged lives don't understand the suffering that a contagion can cause. I don't know for sure and I can't look into medical records to prove it but I bet Jenny McCarthy was vaccinated when she was a child. Unfortunately the 250,000 children under the age of 5 that die yearly from measles don't have that same opportunity. And now that the continuity in the vaccination scheme has been interrupted and herd immunity has been undermined the chances for epidemic mechanics to set in have been brought back.

Fox News (of all the places) has a very good report on the situation and a good fact page for Measles. I'll cherry pick a few of the facts here:

-Worldwide, 20 million cases of measles still occur every year, and the disease is a significant cause of vaccine-preventable death among children.

-In 2005, 311,000 children under the age of 5 died from the disease.

-Measles vaccine can prevent this disease.

The most striking fact to me is the 20 million new cases every year. Think of how many personal interactions just one of those 20 million carriers has everyday, how many chances there are to spread to another individual. If the disease is brought back to the U.S. (which it does daily; illegal border crossings, plane, boat, by mail) then those people who were not vaccinated are at serious risk of infection. To a healthy young adult this may not mean much as a healthy body can deal with the infection and treatments rather well, but those who are compromised, in bad health, or who are very young are at a great risk of having their lives put in danger. Even if death doesn't occur, about 1 in 1,000 measles cases presents with inflammation of the brain, a condition which could affect the mental or physical capacities of someone for the rest of their lives.

Some selected quotes from the reports:

"With the whole debate about vaccines — and now parents due to their personal beliefs not vaccinating their children — what we are seeing now is that we are going to have these epidemic outbreaks throughout the country," said Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing editor of health at FOXNews.com.

"If this continues, we will see outbreaks throughout the entire developed world — something we have never seen before," he added. "What you have to remember is that 250,000 children die from this virus every year," Alvarez added. "So, vaccinations have to be a priority for parents because at the end of the day if you get measles, you can live through it, but in some particular cases you're going to have complications."

"The primary reason for lack of vaccination is personal belief exemptions," the CDC's Dr. Larry Pickering told a news conference arranged by the National Foundation for Infectious

"Until better global control is achieved, cases will continue to be imported into the United States and outbreaks
will persist as long as there are communities of unvaccinated people," Pickering said.

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