A recent measles outbreak in California’s Disneyland has begun to spread throughout the country, with more than 100 infections in January alone. Although measles, a highly contagious respiratory disease spread through the air, can be cured within several weeks, it can also be fatal. According to Yahoo! News, this disease was declared eliminated in the United States as of 2000. This is impressive considering that there used to be 500,000 cases and 500 deaths in the U.S. each year.
Out of all of the states, California has the most infected people, totaling at about ninety people. The state with the second highest number of cases is Illinois, with approximately nine infected people. There is no clear answer as to what or who caused the surge of measles in Disneyland to start, though. Still, it it remains a dangerous location not only for Californians, but for tourists too.
Over the years, an anti-vaccine group has formed, and therefore more and more people are likely to be exposed to measles. Some parents have fears about the effects of vaccinations, whereas others claim to have religious or personal reasons for not having their children vaccinated. Moreover, About.com reports that 2 to 5 percent of people do not respond to the first dose of a measles vaccine, so most people get a booster (second) shot. A booster shot was not recommended in the past, so some adults born before 1985 may not be completely vaccinated.
The U.S. is not alone in this outbreak, though. For instance, The Washington Post stated that the outbreak in Germany is “about 10 times worse than the one in the United States in January, relative to the total population.” Plus, there are many issues regarding measles in third world countries. In these areas, access to vaccines are low, and mortality rates from this disease are high. Hence, people can also easily catch measles if they travel to other countries.
Therefore, despite the fact that many people blame anti-vaxxers for the measel flare-ups, the situation is clearly much more complex. While people against vaccinations definitely do add to the outbreaks, things such as poverty, issues regarding access to medical care, and medical reasons are factors as well.
Nevertheless, some states have started to take action against anti-vaxxers. For example, legislators in California, Oregon, and Washington are considering the option of enacting laws to make it more difficult for parents to refuse to vaccinate school-aged children. Additionally, one of New Mexico’s largest public school districts is going to start denying unvaccinated students access to school unless they have a valid state exemption. At this rate, and as the anti-vaxxer groups continues to grow, it is likely that more laws regarding vaccination will be put in place.
Even though measles is much less severe than it used to be, it is still miserable and infectious. Symptoms include: fever, cough, pinkeye, skin rashes, and white bumps in the mouth. No matter what, it is important to look out for this disease, and to prevent in any way possible. Vaccinations may not be foolproof, but they are the best method of avoiding this disease.
– Lydia Bashor