Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Measles Outbreak

                USA Today reported that “as many as 1,000 people across three Arizona counties potentially exposed to the measles….
                “The possible exposure rate of 1,000 people is tied in large part to those who may have come in contact with 195 children… exposed to measles between January 20 and 21 at the Phoenix Children’s East Valley Center in Mesa….
                “To date, officials have confirmed seven cases of measles:  five in Pinal County, two in Maricopa County.  In addition, health officials in Gila County are working to identify anyone who might have come in contact with one of the Pinal County patients, who visited a hospital there in mid-January….
                “Public-health officials believe the cases of measles will probably grow, but they do not want to instill panic.”

        quoted Will Humble, Director of Arizona Department of Health Services:  This is a critical point in this outbreak…. If the public health system and medical community are able to identify every single susceptible case and get them into isolation, we have a chance of stopping this outbreak here.”

                The Arizona epidemic comes from the outbreak “centered around the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim outside Los Angeles, and has grown to 84 confirmed cases in 14 states, 67 of which are known to be linked to the Disney outbreak, the US Centers for Disease Control said…. Four of the patients diagnosed in Arizona are members of one unvaccinatedfamily who visited the California resort.  The scariest thing about this outbreak is that it infected six infants who were too young to be vaccinated.  h

                This site reported that some doctors in Los Angeles, California, and surrounding area are refusing to see children whose parents refuse to get them vaccinated.

                Dr. Charles Goodman stated, “Parents who choose not to give measles shots, they’re not just putting their kids at risk, but they’re also putting other kids at risk – especially kids in my waiting room.”

                This is a sentiment that has been shared by other doctors in recent years.  Now that our nation faces its “second-biggest measles outbreak in at least 15 years” questions are being raced about the “ethical responsibilities” of such doctors.  Of course, if the relationship been the doctor and patient is “unworkable,” something else needs to be done.

                According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the “measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR, is 97 percent effective at preventing measles.  “Nationally, childhood measles vaccination rates have held steady for years at above 90 percent.  But there seem to be growing pockets of unvaccinated people in scattered communities,” said Dr. Gregory Wallace of the CDC.

                All of the states require certain vaccinations in order to enroll in school, but some states have opt out programs with personal belief waivers allowed for either concerns, religious or other reasons.  People who do not believe in vaccinations often form small communities, where the measles virus spreads quickly and infects approximately 90 percent of the unvaccinated members.

                Measles is a highly contagious disease – the most contagious or at least among the most contagious.  The measles virus is transmitted by sneezes and/or coughs and spreads easily through the air without any physical contact necessary.  It can live in air droplets for two hours after the infected person leaves the room.   It infects 90 percent of any unvaccinated people in contact with it and is most contagious during the four days before the rash appears – when most people are aware they have it.

                The symptoms of the disease include fever, runny nose, conjunctivitis, cough and a red, raised and blotchy rash that starts at the hairline and spreads all over the body.  Symptoms may appear as soon as 7 days or wait 12 or even 21 days after exposure.  Measles makes people very sick with possible fevers of 104-105 degrees and ibuprofen or acetaminophen the “only real treatment.” 

                Measles complication can include blindness, hearing loss, pneumonia, and death.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one to three children out of every 1,000 infected with measles will die from it.  Babies who are too young to be vaccinated are the most vulnerable, and measles among them can be very deadly.  Measles are also very dangerous among pregnant women because of the danger of miscarrying or giving birth prematurely.  Elderly and frail people are also at risk.

                Most measles outbreaks in the United States occur when an unvaccinated American travels to another country and brings the virus back with him.  One such outbreak took place in Ohio in 2014 when an Amish missionary  went to the Philippines that was facing a big measles outbreak; he returned home with the virus and spread it to more than 400 other people in the unvaccinated Amish community.  After seeing how sick people got with the measles, the Amish people quickly corrected their mistake by getting vaccinated.

                For more information about measles check out this article entitled “Nine Things Everyone Should Know about Measles”  by Julia Belluz and this article entitled “Everything You Need to Know about Vaccines” by German Lopez.

                Doctors and others in the health field have some good suggestions:  (1) Take personal responsibility, tell the truth, and use common sense.  (2) Anyone who has been notified they have been exposed or anyone who thinks they have been exposed should isolate themselves.  (3) Parents concerned about sending their children to day care or school should ask some direct questions about how many children in their group are vaccinated and keep their children home if necessary.  (4) Any unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people who have been exposed need to be in isolation for 21 days.  (5) Pharmacies can give measles vaccination but call to insure they have the vaccine in stock.  Anyone without insurance may have to pay $100 per shot.

                With this kind of information available, many people still refuse to vaccinate their children because of fear.  I support their freedom to make such a choice, but I do not understand their reasoning.  In fact, I think their reasons look ridiculous, especially during outbreaks of disease like the current one.  Parents who vaccinate their children do not want their children exposed by unvaccinated children.   There is much anger in our nation between the two groups. 

                I was vaccinated as a child for small pox and polio.  I do not remember having “the hard kind” of measles but I did have the mumps, whooping cough, and probably the German measles (a milder kind if I understand correctly). 

                I made sure that my children were vaccinated at the suggested ages.  In fact, one of my daughters was selected to be in a “control group” when the question of a MMR booster arose because she was vaccinated at the correct ages.  She was tested in high school and found that she needed a booster.  To the best of my knowledge, all of my grandchildren have been vaccinated at the suggested ages and all of them are healthy.  I remember the concern of another daughter who was pregnant and working at a high school when a whooping cough outbreak happened.

                I was in grade school when a polio epidemic swept our nation.  I remember my parents’ fear and then their relief when the polio vaccine was available.  One of my classmates contracted polio and wore a brace throughout grade school, junior high, and most of high school.  I visited with him at our 50 year high school reunion and noticed that he still walks with a very noticeable limp.  I also had a cousin who came down with measles and was sick for numerous weeks.  Parents in that day knew the dangers of those awful diseases and took every precaution they could take.

                There are so many terrible diseases without vaccine available in the world.  Why should children be exposed to diseases they can avoid with vaccination?  Why should we risk their health and possibly their lives when we can protect them?  I hope this gives you a little more information about the highly contagious measles virus and what you can do to help eradicate it from our nation or at least contain it.

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