Editorial

Back-to-the-future for bad old disease

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Social media helped spread a long-debunked theory linking vaccinations to autism, to the point that the anti-vaxxer message has even reached those who spend no time on the internet.

The U.S. is on track to break a 25-year-old record number of measles cases, with 695 reported so far this year, with eight months to go.

There were 963 cases reported in 1994.

Rather than trust proven science, anti-vaxxers trusted their childrenís health to a former Playboy model, bringing measles back from virtual elimination in 2000.

Ironically, most of the newest cases came from two ultra-Orthodox jewish communities in Brooklyn and suburban Rockland County, mostly unvaccinated people.

With recent Passover celebrations, the number of cases is likely to increase, since measles is highly contagious and easily spreads by coughs or sneezes. It can take 10-12 days for symptoms to develop.

Until now, the biggest recent single U.S. measles outbreak was in 2014, when 383 cases were reported in the Amish community in nine Ohio counties.

Granted, measles symptoms are usually minor, involving fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body.

However, a few cases result in pneumonia and swelling of the brain.

Out of every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been three measles-related deaths reported in the U.S. since 2000, the last one in 2015. The worst year for measles in modern U.S. history was 1958, with more than 763,000 reported cases and 552 deaths.

If the prospect of a return to those kinds of numbers isnít bad enough, public health officials worry that the uptick in measles could portend a return of other vaccine-preventable diseases such as rubella, chickenpox and bacterial meningitis.

Before putting faith in something shared on your Facebook or Twitter feed, check with your healthcare providers and follow their recommendation.

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