News story on a traveler with measles moving around the US: "More than 10 million people are infected with measles worldwide each year,and the disease is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in small children. Outbreaks are more common in Europe than in the United States, and most U.S. cases come from transatlantic travelers. U.S. law requires that any cases of measles be reported to public health authorities.One of the myths that the anti-vaccine folks like to spread is the idea that everyone got measles and mumps and were just fine. Kim Stagliano of the blog Age of Autism trots it out regularly:
"We don't want measles to be imported back into the U.S. once it gets a foothold," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, told The Associated Press."
"Were kids dying of measles in America when Leave it to Beaver was airing? How about Arthur the Aardvark and his sister DW contracting Chicken Pox? Did PBS, the station that brought you Mr. Rogers and Elmo, mean to scare children with an episode about a deadly disease or simply explain to them that they too could manage the itch and discomfort of the Chicken Pox. Just last week, I heard a Frank Sinatra song called, "Ev'rything happens to me," where he sings, "I've had the measles and the mumps." When did measles and chicken pox go from entertainment fodder to epidemic fear? And who's behind it?"Yes, because sitcoms covered it and nothing bad happened in a sitcom, it must mean that there's no danger. Wow. There you go, an explanation that makes sense: folks at Age of Autism think that television shows are real but the reports from the CDC and WHO are not.
According to the WHO,
"Measles is a highly infectious disease. In developing countries, 1-5% of children with measles die from complications of the disease. This death rate may be as high as 25% among people who are displaced, malnourished and have poor access to health care. The disease can also lead to severe health complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea and blindness."
WHO provides these figures on mortality:
"It remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. An estimated 164 000 people died from measles in 2008 – mostly children under the age of five."WHO provides this information on complications:
"Most measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease. Complications are more common in children under the age of five, or adults over the age of 20. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia. As high as 10% of measles cases result in death among populations with high levels of malnutrition and a lack of adequate health care."
Stagliano and other parents think chicken pox is no big deal, either, and often deride the idea of a vaccine for the disease. While for most, it is not a serious problem, it is also not a disease that leaves the body, vanquished. Instead it lies dormant waiting to attack as shingles later in a person's life.
The CDC reports that:
"In unvaccinated children, chickenpox most commonly causes an illness that lasts about 5-10 days. Children usually miss 5 or 6 days of school or childcare due to their chickenpox and have symptoms such as high fever, severe itching, an uncomfortable rash, and dehydration or headache. In addition, about 1 in 10 unvaccinated children who get the disease will have a complication from chickenpox serious enough to visit a health-care provider. These complications include infected skin lesions, other infections, dehydration from vomiting or diarrhea, or more serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis. In vaccinated children, chickenpox illness is typically mild, producing no symptoms at all other than a few red bumps. However, about 25% to 30% of vaccinated children who get the disease will develop illness as serious as unvaccinated children."
Complications, according to the CDC:
"Serious complications from chickenpox include bacterial infections which can involve many sites of the body including the skin, tissues under the skin, bone, lungs (pneumonia), joints, and blood. Other serious complications are due directly to infection with the varicella-zoster virus and include viral pneumonia, bleeding problems, and infection of the brain (encephalitis). Many people are not aware that before a vaccine was available approximately 10,600 persons were hospitalized and 100 to 150 died as a result of chickenpox in the U.S. every year."
You know, having a college degree and affluence doesn't make you an expert in areas outside your degree. And Dr. Jay Gordon, Dr. Bob Sears, and Saint Andy Wakefield prove quite well that being doctors doesn't mean they know what they're talking about, either. So when you go outside mainstream, accepted scientific consensus and spout off crap based on availability heuristic and television shows, I'm going to think you're either intentionally ignorant, callous to the suffering and deaths of children from vaccine preventable diseases, or both.