The Measles Outbreak: Why Now?Danielle Sullivan
Back in 2000, the childhood disease of measles was all but eliminated. But this year, the United States has seen the highest number of cases of measles in the past ten years. In just the past five months alone, 127 cases of measles were reported by the Centers For Disease Control. The cases occurred in 15 states and over 40 percent of the patients had to be hospitalized.
Why the sudden resurgence?
Two words: no vaccinations.
Measles is highly contagious. Over 90 percent of unvaccinated people who come in contact with the respiratory disease will contract it. Since symptoms are so common (runny nose, coughing, sneezing, red, watery eyes) and the most contagious period of time occurs before the rash breaks out, infection can be extremely easy to pass on to people who have not been vaccinated.
The National Institute of Health reports that vaccinations is the best way to prevent the disease:
Some parents do not let their children get vaccinated because of unfounded fears that the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, can cause autism. Large studies of thousands of children have found no connection between this vaccine and autism. Not vaccinating children can lead to outbreaks of a measles, mumps, and rubella — all of which are potentially serious diseases of childhood.
The U.S. states with the outbreaks include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington state, as well as Washington, D.C. Today, Charlottesville, VA is reporting a small measles outbreak that they believe began after a woman contracted it in India, came home and spread it in her town.
Just last month, parts of Europe, France in particular, saw a major measles outbreak that health experts attribute to unvaccinated children, reports the Huffington Post. The World Health Organization reported nearly 5,000 cases between January and March in Europe.
I am on the way today to the doctor to get my daughter vaccinated. What I always wonder about is how schools are so adamant about getting the medical documentation before the school year starts but by simply checking off “religious reasons”, kids can enter a building without the proper vaccinations.
I’ll admit that I am the first to be suspect of the new crop of vaccinations. For example, I am still pretty leery about Gardisil, the shot for girls starting at age 9 used to prevent certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). To me, it’s still a new vaccine and I’m not convinced that 9-year-olds need it. But with an established vaccine like the MMR, I am more traditional, I guess because they’re been around for so long. I even had them when I was a kid and suffered no repercussions. Yet I understand the concern of thousands of parents who feel that there is a definite link between vaccines and autism. I empathize with those parents whose children have become gravely sick and/or died from vaccines. There are no easy answers. Everyone has their own beliefs regarding vaccines.
Do you vaccinate your kids? What vaccinations worry you, if any? Do you think there is a link between vaccinations and autism?
Vaccination Information: Required immunizations for kids 0-6 years
Read Danielle’s blog Just Write Mom.