Post Disneyland (and anyone who thinks this story would have the same legs if the infections had occurred at some location without international recognition isn’t paying attention) we’re all talking about measles. Measles, a potentially deadly disease we declared eliminated (like polio) in the United States only 15 years ago.
The Guardian has a story by Nicky Wolf illustrating how wealthy, empowered people react when their personal superstitions are called out.
Eileen Dannemann is at war. “It’s a war between good and evil. It’s a primordial, cosmic war,” she says.
Her website, which is called the Vaccine Liberation Army (one really scary website, JH), is one of a network of blogs and forums espousing, largely, the same message: that vaccines are bad for you, and that they are part of a nefarious, nebulous scheme by “Big Pharma” and, in some cases, the government.
In a way, it is a war—one of opinion, being waged on blogs, on parenting forums, in the media and, lately, by politicians.
An outbreak of measles—one of the most virulent diseases known to man, but one which the CDC declared eliminated (defined as the absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) in the United States in 2000—in the US this year has brought the issue to the forefront of public awareness.
Last year saw a drastic spike in measles cases compared to the years since 2000, with 644 cases reported in the US, and 2015 is on track to exceed that easily, with 102 reported in 14 states in January alone. Two other diseases that had been all but eradicated from the US after mass vaccination for them began—whooping cough (I had a student several years ago with Whooping cough and I now wonder why he wasn’t vaccinated, JH), also known as pertussis, and the mumps—are making comebacks of their own.
The problem is that public trust in vaccines is waning—and as more parents opt not to inoculate their children, more and more parts of the country start to drop below the threshold at which “herd immunity” protects against outbreaks.
So, what happens when parents start suing the anti-vaxxers for murder after their at-risk children contract and die from measles? Do they think that shouting No preachy science junk will save them?
David Bry adds his thoughts in Paranoia is self-defeating. But you can change your mind about vaccinations for The Guardian.