Measles hysteria 2015

From CNN, Measles cases in California soar:

Last Wednesday, the number was 59. Nine days later, there are 91 cases of measles in California.

There are over 38 million people living in California. As of now, there are 91 confirmed case of measles and 58 of those people were allegedly infected at Disneyland, which is in southern California. Check out this scary, or not, map:

map of CA

All that gray area is where no measles cases have been reported.

From a January 21st report by the California Department of Health:

The California measles patients reside in 11 local health jurisdictions…Patients range in age from seven months to 70 years. Vaccination status is documented for 34 of the 59 cases. Of these 34, 28 were unvaccinated, one had received one dose and five had received two or more doses of MMR vaccine.

From the CDC:

From January 1 to January 30, 2015, 102 people from 14 states were reported to have measles. Most of these cases are part of a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.

A LARGE outbreak, they say. Is it? There are over 311 million people living in the United States. 102 of them have contracted measles. 91 of the 102 live in California. If my math is correct, that leaves 11 people with measles in 13 states other than California. Did a couple of them report their illnesses in two different states? Anyway, there are 48 states in the Continental United States. That means 34 states have no reported cases of measles.

A bit of a side note from the CNN article:

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, which means it is no longer native to the United States but continues to be brought in by international travelers.

Now for the hysteria. From US News:

“This outbreak is occurring because a critical number of people are choosing not to vaccinate their children,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Division of Infectious Diseases.

“Parents are not scared of the disease” because they’ve never seen it, Offit said. “And, to a lesser extent, they have these unfounded concerns about vaccines. But the big reason is they don’t fear the disease.”

…The most common side effects of the MMR vaccine are a fever and occasionally a mild rash. Some children may experience seizures from the fever, but experts say these seizures have no long-term negative effects.

No, seizures aren’t a bit scary. How common are such seizures? From the CDC:

Of the children identified as having seizures following the 7 to 10-day vaccination period, about 90% were found to be febrile seizures.

The rate of seizures in this timeframe was 85 per 1000 person-years in the MMRV vaccine group compared to 42 per 1000 in the MMR and varicella vaccine group. This risk was about 2 times higher in children who received the combination shot (MMRV) versus the single shots (MMR and varicella).

What in the world is a person-year? From medilexicon:

The product of the number of years times the number of members of a population who have been affected by a certain condition (years of treatment with a given drug).

That didn’t help.

Here’s another side note: the term “person-year” is also used in accounting. It’s a unit of measurement based on an ideal amount of work done by one person in a year consisting of a standard number of person-days.

What’s a febrile seizure? From the NIH:

Febrile seizures are convulsions brought on by a fever in infants or small children. During a febrile seizure, a child often loses consciousness and shakes, moving limbs on both sides of the body. Less commonly, the child becomes rigid or has twitches in only a portion of the body, such as an arm or a leg, or on the right or the left side only. Most febrile seizures last a minute or two, although some can be as brief as a few seconds while others last for more than 15 minutes.

That’s not scary. But measles – we must fear measles.

Back to the US News article:

Serious complications from measles can include pneumonia and encephalitis, which can lead to long-term deafness or brain damage. An estimated one in 5,000 cases will result in death, according to Offit.

“One in 5,000 cases will result in death.” So far, this year there are 102 reported cases. Check out this drugs.com list of potential side effects from a measles vaccine. Side effects include pneumonia, encephalitis, deafness and brain damage.

A final quote from the US News article:

“If a child died of measles in southern California, I think people would start vaccinating,” Offit said. “I think it will take more suffering and more hospitalizations and more deaths to not see these outbreaks. We’re compelled by fear, and we don’t fear this disease enough.”

From an AP science writer, posted by Fox News in Phoenix:

A major measles outbreak traced to Disneyland has brought criticism down on the small but vocal movement among parents to opt out of vaccinations for their children…

At Huntington Beach High School in Orange County, two dozen unvaccinated students were ordered home until the three-week incubation period is up.

More than 30 babies in Northern California’s Alameda County have been placed in home isolation after possible exposure.

“I’m terribly upset that someone has made a choice that not only affects their child but other people’s children,” said Jennifer Simon, whose 6-month-old daughter, Livia, was isolated after it was learned she may have been exposed to measles during a visit to the doctor’s office.

As others have mentioned, if the vaccine works so well, why would those who take it be afraid of exposure?

If fear mongering doesn’t work, try bullying.

From CBS news, “Doctor fed up with measles outbreak takes controversial stance”:

“I can’t protect every kid in the United States, but I can protect the ones I care for,” said Dr. Goodman. “It’s a very hard line to take, but at some point I had to draw the line in the sand and say you know what, I got to protect my kids, that’s my job as a pediatrician.”

“Those babies could die,” said Dr. Goodman. “I have to weigh the risk of a kid in my office getting measles and potentially dying versus the rights of those parents to not immunize when I thought most of them were making that choice based on bad information.”

“That’s why I took the stance, believe your doctor, listen to your doctor, not the Internet, or go somewhere else,” Dr. Goodman said.

Again, if the vaccine is so great, how will Dr. Goodman’s vaccinated babies get sick?

From Fortune, “Why you should care about the measles outbreak–even if you’re vaccinated”:

A measles outbreak spreading across the country has sickened 86 people in 14 states, raising fears of an epidemic. But what’s different this time is the high number of adults falling ill –including some who have been vaccinated…

Even with the safest and most effective vaccines, there’s still a “long tail,” meaning that a certain number of people won’t build up the needed antibodies to protect them from the measles.

So everyone has to be vaccinated in order to protect the allegedly few people that aren’t protected after getting the vaccine. It’s called “herd immunity.”

The hysteria and bullying happens every year. These are from 2014. Time Magazine:

The New Measles Outbreak: Blame the Anti-Vaxxers

You have to be spoiled to play cute with disease—spoiled or, well, stupid.

Fox News:

Deaths from measles outbreak may be ‘inevitable’ as cases surge in US

Authorities say 129 cases in 13 states were reported by mid-April, the bulk of them in California and New York City. Most were triggered by travelers who caught the virus abroad and spread it in the United States among unvaccinated people…

The U.S. numbers remain relatively tiny, but officials are worried to see case counts growing.

HuffPo:

Big Measles Outbreaks Linked To Troubling Trend

The so-called troubling trend was opting out of vaccinations for religious reasons:

A recent measles outbreak at a religious preschool in Vancouver with a vaccination rate of nearly zero points to a troubling trend. Large outbreaks in the past year are closely tied to pockets of unvaccinated individuals within insular religious communities, some of which have been critical of the measles vaccine, rather than to statewide vaccination rates.

Again, that BIG measles outbreak was less than 150 reported cases.

It goes on and on. Every year it’s the same thing. However, you have to wonder why we’re told to fear measles but not the deadly Ebola virus with its vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding out the ears and eyes.

This post is not intended to influence anyone to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. It’s easy to search online and find the type of propaganda quoted in this post. It’s difficult to find information that seems trustworthy. Do your own research and then decide. However, remember that healthcare professionals can get caught up in propaganda-driven hysteria as easily as the rest of us.

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