February 7th, 2015

measles simulation

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.


  1. jan says:

    How could vaccinated children contract measles from unvaccinated children and die from the disease? Surely the vaccine they received would protect them. I had measles in 1948 (I was 3 years old) The thing I remember most was that my mother said I couldn’t go outside in the sun without sun glasses, nor in the shade without ear muffs. Lasted about three days. The best part was lifetime immunity.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Good morning Jan,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion by writing a comment. We build our communities through our conversations.

      The danger is not to those who are vaccinated, but rather to those who, for valid medical reasons such as babies too young for their first vaccinations or those with compromised immune systems (like some of the students I work with), must depend upon the herd immunity to protect them.

      There simply isn’t any scientific reason to not vaccinate a healthy child of sufficient age and many reasons, personal and communal, to do so.

      Do all you can to make today a better day,


  2. ryan says:

    I have been reading the Cluborlov.com blog.

    I don’t believe most of what the guy says, because he is Russian. But it has been interesting to learn of other perspectives.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Good morning Ryan,

      I’ve been reading a few of the posts on the blog you mentioned and they are interesting.

      The piece about American and our crazy spelling (mostly because our language is a melange of dozens of other organic, i.e. home-grown, languages) and I agree with the general thesis.

      As for Russians, for a people who have been invaded so many times that they can’t begin to count them (including once by us—the infamous Polar Bear Expedition—in 1918); I think they do pretty well.

      Do all you can to make today a more open day,


  3. Fred O'Neill says:

    Good morning all – Jan may not have heard of what is called “asymptomatic” carriers (the most famous of these was Chicago’s “Typhoid Mary”) who can infect others without acquiring the disease themselves … Ryan, the Russians are NOT the only paranoid nuts on the planet. Have you checked out Breitbart or Drudge lately. Here in Marietta, one of our (many) local conspiracy buffs has been telling McDonald employees that “ISIS is active here”. It seems that he is referring to some female Marietta College students who wear traditional Muslim attire. This guy is dangerous – especially in light of what just happened in Chapel Hill, N.C. … We have some folks here – at both ends of the political spectrum – who refuse to have their children vaccinated because of several idiotic reasons …

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Good morning Fred,

      I’ve postponed my February trip for next weekend (we’re looking at more snow up here) and I’m now thinking I’ll try to drive down to Marietta for Spring Break (27 March-6 April) and spend a few days.

      Did the campus police ever get those M-16s they were talking about last year? If so, they may get a chance to use them against the homicidely bigoted in the area. Sadly, Washington County has plenty of pockets of those who probably want Craig Stephen Hicks’ autograph (I went to school with a few).

      As for the reality challenged cohort, at least Ohio law keeps their kids out of the public schools. I think the first lawsuit is just waiting to happen and fear of legal fees and civil penalties may at least give them pause.

      Do all you can to make today a more sane day,


      • Fred O'Neill says:

        Hello Jeff – March will be better for me as well. Besides the sometimes sub-zero cold (though our snowfall is so minimal as to make even some local climate-deniers wonder if this isn’t “Ohio’s Riviera”). A couple of weeks ago, I fell (out of bed at 3 a.m. would you believe) and broke two ribs. I am on the mend thanks to Alieve and Hall’s cough-drops. If I ever thought about hitting the bottle, I would have done it, but so far it’s not that bad … My trips to McDonald’s have been fewer, but I will ask the employees if Clutter has been yapping about ISIS lately, and, if so, I might report his ass to the SPLC site HATEWATCH … Another problem here is that permission has been granted to set up a couple of injection wells next to the Washington County Career Center on 821. It’s the curvy road that my daughter uses to go to woks (it includes “Slaughterhouse Hill” where a four-car pileup occurred last week). It is NOT ready for 24-7 “brine” (toxic waste from fracking sites elsewhere) hauling truck traffic … There is some concern from neighbors about this, as well as pollution of ground-water and possible earth-tremors (these have been fully documented and even shale-play shills like M.C. Professor Bob Chase admit are very real) like the 2. to 3.4 quakes two years ago near Youngstown, Athens, and in parts of Washington County … Hope to see you in March. Live long and prosper …

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