Effect Measure

Measles again

In other parts of the world measles is a major killer of children and infants. In my own youth measles was a very troublesome childhood disease that was a major cause of morbidity in the US, with 3 to 4 million cases a year. One in 250 died, almost 50,000 a year were hospitalized and 1000 were left with long term disability. Then, in 1963, measles vaccination was introduced. Since 1997 there have been less than 150 cases a year, mostly less than 100.

Except this year:

However, during January 1–April 25, 2008, a total of 64 confirmed measles cases were preliminarily reported to CDC, the most reported by this date for any year since 2001. Of the 64 cases, 54 were associated with importation of measles from other countries into the United States, and 63 of the 64 patients were unvaccinated or had unknown or undocumented vaccination status. (CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report)

Even with a highly contagious disease like measles, if you can vaccinate a high enough percentage of the population you can essentially wipe the disease out because a single infectious case cannot, on average, find enough susceptibles to spread. This is called herd immunity. It’s not just that most people aren’t susceptible. With good population coverage the virus doesn’t circulate and you don’t have measles without measles virus. The US has a quite well covered population so ordinarily wouldn’t be subject to outbreaks. But the rest of the world hasn’t caught up. There are an estimated 20 million measles cases globally. The virus still circulates freely outside the US and can come here on infected people.

We’re not talking about illegal immigrants. We’re talking about unvaccinated US citizens who travel abroad and unvaccinated foreign travelers who come to the US to visit from highly developed countries in Europe. Why weren’t they vaccinated? Opposition to vaccination:

Thus far in 2008, five U.S. residents and five visitors have been documented as acquiring measles abroad. Of these 10 persons, nine acquired measles in the WHO European Region. These importations likely are related to an increase in 2008 in measles activity in Europe. In Switzerland, approximately 2,250 measles cases have been reported since November 2006. The Swiss measles outbreak started in Lucerne, where the measles vaccination coverage level in children is 78%, and spread across the country, predominantly affecting children aged 5–15 years who were unvaccinated because of parental opposition to vaccination. In Israel (which is included in the WHO European Region), a measles outbreak with approximately 1,000 cases is ongoing (Ministry of Health, Israel, unpublished data, 2008), and measles transmission is occurring in other European countries, predominantly among populations opposed to vaccination.

The unvaccinated cases then infected unvaccinated US citizens. Some of those unvaccinated people, I am embarrassed to say, were health care workers. Moreover unvaccinated people tend to cluster geographically and socially. Failure to vaccinate is itself contagious. This makes outbreaks more likely since it creates pockets of susceptibles in which the disease can spread. And when this happens it endangers others. Like my little grandson who has almost, but not quite yet, reached the age of routine of first vaccine dose (12 – 15 months). Creeping resistance to measles vaccination has led to large scale measles outbreaks in the UK and The Netherlands. It would be a shame to see innocent children harmed here by the same kind of irrational and socially destructive refusal to do a responsible thing we see in some European countries.

At the moment we don’t have endemic, smoldering and ongoing measles transmission in the US. Yet we know it can happen here because the virus is periodically imported. We can’t get Europeans to act responsibly. But we can protect ourselves and our neighbors and our neighbor’s children and our neighbor’s grandchildren.

Comments

  1. #1 gilmoreaz
    May 3, 2008

    MEASLES CONTINUES TO CIRCULATE IN PIMA COUNTY

    Tucson, Arizona – March 31, 2008 – Pima County Health Department is reporting nine (9)
    confirmed cases of measles, and considers it possible, and likely, that transmission of the disease
    could occur in the community as well as in health care settings.

    The above is believed to have stated from a visitor from Sweden. . .

  2. #2 gilmoreaz
    May 3, 2008

    Seems to be widening. . .

    Update:

    Date of last update 5/2/2008
    Cases confirmed 17
    Ages 9 children, 8 adults

    Time to get a couple of MMR vaccines. Reveres, as always THANKS for the heads up.

    .

  3. #3 Monado, FCD
    May 7, 2008

    Yes, there’s a reason why Alexander Graham Bell could get a job as a teacher at a school for deaf children. Measles would produce a constant supply.

  4. #4 Marsha
    February 10, 2010

    “Vaccines Did Not Save Us – 2 Centuries of Official”

    http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/graphs/

    “StatisticsThis is the data the drug industry do not want you to see. Here 2 centuries of UK, USA and Australian official death statistics show conclusively and scientifically modern medicine is not responsible for and played little part in substantially improved life expectancy and survival from disease in western economies.

    The main advances in combating disease over 200 years have been better food and clean drinking water. Improved sanitation, less overcrowded and better living conditions also contribute. This is also borne out in published peer reviewed research”

    “US Statistics Measles – Rapid Decline Regardless of Vaccination”

    http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/graphs/#Meas_Mort_UK_USA

    “This is the story the UK media have steadfastly not been publishing and of the contrasting unprecedented new developments in the US politically and in the US Federal Court.

    The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper reported [13/Jan/09] the British government was refusing the public release under the UK’s Freedom Of Information laws of confidential files on a proven dangerous MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccine. A recent legal case has forced the files open: [Confidential MMR vaccine files should be opened in the public interest, watchdog rules – The Daily Mail – Jenny Hope – 13th January 2009]

    In the US Federal Court children are being compensated after findings they developed autism and other injuries. The British government has prevented its child citizens being compensated and treated. Money and politics override child health safety. 20 years on children continue to be injured. Starting in 1986 Canada, to 1988 Japan and the UK to the present this previously unpublished account is definitive carefully researched and accessible.

    The problem is not just autism and not just the MMR vaccine [see USA developments and Federal Court decisions below]. What else are we not being told?”

  5. #5 Alex
    February 10, 2010

    @Marsha: All of the arguments you’ve given have already been torn apart by Orac on his blog Respectful Insolence, over many posts. About the references: like the Huffington Post, AoA and Generation Rescue, ChildHealthSafety is a stronghold of anti-vaxx propaganda, pseudo-science and fear mongering about vaccines. Most of the people writing there have little or no medical knowledge or are alt-meds (which also have little or no medical knowledge). Revere, Orac and others in the Medicine section of ScienceBlogs are much more competent and reliable. I’ll take my chances with them.

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