The Return of the Measles

The Return of the Measles

The threat of measles in the U.S. has been on the rise despite its eradication in 2000. A few weeks ago there was a massive outbreak in Disneyland, California that, so far, has been linked to 67 confirmed cases and possibly many more. In 2014 there were 644 reported cases of the measles across 27 different states. In 2013 there were only about 150 cases in 16 states. The comeback of the measles is partly due to the failure of many to vaccinate their children. Measles is still prominent in many other countries including Europe, one of the most popular locations for vacationing. It is believed that the Disney outbreak was the result of either a visiting tourist or a returning one. Often times the disease is acquired outside of the U.S. and brought back by unvaccinated travelers.

            Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that causes symptoms such as fever, rash, and cough. It spreads through aerosol transmission from coughing or sneezing as well as through fluids. There is a 90% chance of catching the measles if you are not vaccinated and currently sharing living space with an infected person. It is most threatening to infants under 12 months of age who are not yet old enough to receive the vaccine. It can further lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, and although rare, death. The majority of people who choose not to be vaccinated claim philosophical or religious beliefs as their reason.

             One of the major hindrances to distributing the vaccine has been the 1998 study by British scientist Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield claimed that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine alters the immune system leading to brain damage resulting in autism. Although the 12 person case study was declared “fraudulent” by the British Medical Journal, and Wakefield lost his license there are still many anti-vaccine supporters who agree with him. One of the most well-know of these proponents is model, actress, and wife of Donnie Wahlberg, Jenny McCarthy. People who refuse to get themselves or their children vaccinated are putting others at risk, particularly those with pre-existing health conditions. Most areas of the U.S. rely on what is known as “herd immunity”. This is the idea that 92-94% of a community needs to be immune to ensure that everyone (both immunized and not immunized) will be protected. The rise of communities, often upper class, who do not believe in vaccinations are causing an imbalance in the system. The measles is a growing health concern and the best way to stop its return along with other similar diseases is to get vaccinated.

Sources:

Haberman, Clyde. "A Discredited Vaccine Study's Continuing Impact on Public Health." The New York Times. The New York Times

 

"Measles — United States, January 1–August 24, 2013." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Sept. 2013. Web.

 

McCarthy, M.D. Claire. "The Good Thing About the Disney Measles Outbreak." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web.

 

 

 Photograph:

http://www.shenzhen-standard.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/measles_348904661.jpg