* This post first appeared on The PediaBlog on February 2, 2015.
Measles — 2015 Update
Dan Whitcomb introduces us to a new terrorist:
Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 but Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the disease could still easily be brought in by a traveler from abroad.
“This is a wake-up call to make sure we keep measles from getting a foothold in our country,” she said.
Overseas is precisely where Maggie Fox says this current outbreak originated:
“We assume that someone got infected with measles overseas, visited Disneyland park, and spread the disease to others.”
There’s been on ongoing outbreak of measles in the Philippines, but no imported U.S. cases have been linked to the Philippines this year, Schuchat said. Genetic tests of the virus affecting Americans are similar to strains seen in Indonesia, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Dubai.
Whoever first brought the virus to Disneyland is probably long gone, Schuchat said, and could even be unaware that he or she caused the outbreak.
Physicians should be diligent when examining a child or adult with the classic symptoms of measles, whose prevention with a simple and safe vaccination is incomprehensibly refused by a small-but-dangerous minority of malinformed parents:
“We are urging all health care professionals to think measles during medical visits,” Schuchat said. Anyone with a fever, especially if there’s a rash, should be evaluated for measles. It’s the most infectious virus known, with a 90 percent transmission rate among people who are not immunized or otherwise immune to it. Each patient with measles can infect 12 to 18 other people.”
The reason it’s spreading is simple. People have failed to get vaccinated, Schuchat said.
“This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working. It’s a problem of the measles vaccine not being used,” she said. “Measles can be a very serious disease and people need to be vaccinated.”
Why should we worry about measles?
“Measles is still common around the world and we estimate there are around 20 million cases a year,” Schuchat added. Of them, more than 145,000 die every year. “For every 1,000 children who get measles, one to three of them die despite treatment,” Schuchat said. And 28 percent of kids who get measles are sick enough to be hospitalized, and can suffer permanent brain damage.
Jennifer Simon tells CNN that her six-month-old daughter (who is too young to receive the MMR vaccine) has been in quarantine the whole month of January because she was exposed to another child with measles at her doctor’s office — a child whose parents refused to immunize:
“I’m angry,” Simon said. “I’ve been upset that someone else’s personal choice has impacted us so much.”
In Alameda County, where Simon lives, nine infants were in quarantine as of Tuesday night because of the measles outbreak, a spokeswoman said.
Simon said she hopes families who opt not to immunize their children realize the full impact of their decision.
“Their choice endangered my child,” she said.
This dad explains why he didn’t vaccinate his son against whooping cough:
Pertussis, also known as “whooping cough”, is a bacterial disease that can permanently injure or kill a child. Despite the pertussis epidemic currently sweeping California, we didn’t vaccinate our son against pertussis, because he’s only one month old. And you can’t vaccinate a child against pertussis until he is like two months old. Of course we will when he’s old enough. We’re not morons.
As we’ve discovered previously on The PediaBlog, the vast majority of parents understand the importance of vaccinating to protect their own children, as well as their social and moral responsibility to protect other children who are too young, or too sick, to be immunized themselves. Very few parents actually refuse vaccines outright. My experience is that those who have been misinformed by media or by other parents, or parents who simply have “gut reaction” reservations about vaccines, will, with some gentle, science-based education, make sure their children (for the most part) get completely immunized (eventually).
Parents who refuse all vaccines live on the fringe of reality. Unfortunately, they also live in the middle of society, putting their own children — and the rest of us — in some serious, life-threatening danger.
Read The PediaBlog’s “Anatomy Of An Epidemic” here.
UPDATE: 2/2/15, 5:15pm — CDC is reporting 102 cases of measles in 14 states, including Pennsylvania, for the month of January.)