Antivaccine nonsense Medicine

Another reason why it’s important to vaccinate

Here’s another case of measles associated with failure to vaccinate:

Health officials in Milwaukee County are urging parents to make sure their kids are up to date with vaccinations. This comes on the heels of a confirmed case of measles in a 23 month old Franklin resident.

Measles is a highly contagious airborne virus that’s easily spread. Symptoms are similar to a common cold: coughing, a runny nose, a high fever and eventually, a red blotchy rash that starts on the head and spreads to the arms and legs. While health officials aren’t sure how the 23 month old contracted the virus, they do say it could’ve been prevented. Records show the child is up to date with all other vaccinations but never received the one for measles, mumps and rubella. Some fear the vaccine causes autism. Doctor Geof Swain is medical director for the Milwaukee Health Department. He says those concerns are unfounded.

It should be noted that this child was hospitalized because of the measles. He was that ill. I also note that the child’s lack of MMR vaccination appears to have been due to an oversight, not because the parents are antivaccinationist or have been scared by antivaccinationists. Even so, he appears to have exposed two day care centers to the virus:

The 23-month-old child is from Franklin and attended day care centers in Greendale and Greenfield while infected.

One of those centers was the Kids Club at the Bally’s Health Club in Greendale. Parents whose kids were also at the daycare received calls from health officials this weekend.

If a single child could potentially expose so many others to the measles by accident, imagine what would happen if idiots like Jenny McCarthy, who says she “wouldn’t vaccinate at all, never, ever,” get their way and lots of parents start eschewing the MMR. Oh, wait. We don’t have to “imagine” anything. We already know. It’s already happened in the U.K., resulting in thousands of cases of mumps and measles and at least one death from measles. Now imagine how many more casualties could occur in a much larger nation, such as the U.S. Another issue that I wonder about is how this child managed to be registered to attend two different day care centers without documentation of having received the MMR vaccine. That’s a problem the State of Wisconsin will need to look into.

One of the most obnoxious and idiotic things that antivaccinationists claim is that measles and the mumps are not particularly harmful diseases, and it drives me nuts when I see such claims on antivaccinationist websites. There are even those who advocate “measles parties,” where they intentionally expose their children to children suffering from the measles in order to have their children contract the disease. Why would anyone do something so dangerous to their children? These parents are deluded by the belief that it’s somehow better to become immune by getting a disease “naturally” than becoming immune through the “artificial” method of vaccination. I kid you not.

From my perspective, such parents are child abusers, plain and simple. Here’s why:

“Among children with measles, about five percent will develop a pneumonia and about one in 1,000 will develop encephalitis. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain that can result in deafness or mental retardation. And about one or two cases of measles per thousand will be fatal,” Swain says.

The last time Wisconsin saw a serious outbreak of measles was in 1989. Around 1,600 cases were reported and five people died. Health officials say they expect the toddler to make a full recovery.

Anyone who claims that the MMR is more dangerous than actually getting the measles simply does not know what he or she is talking about, and anyone who intentionally exposes his or her child to the measles is playing Russian Roulette with that child’s life. Australian skeptic and diehard fighter of antivaccination lunacy Peter Bowditch also has a good response to such dangerous ignorance in the form of pictures of the results antivaccinationists can expect to achieve with their work.

Here’s hoping that this is the only case. It may not be, though. Measles has an 8-10 day incubation period. Also, we do not know how many exposed children also had not been vaccinated, and even if all of them have, the MMR, although quite good, is not 100% effective. That’s why herd immunity is so important.

Never forget what is at stake here when you see celebrity idiots like Jenny McCarthy saying that vaccines cause autism based on her extensive education at the University of Google’s Antivaccination Institute. It’s nothing less than the return of vaccine-preventable diseases based on fears unfounded in science or evidence. That is the world that antivaccinationists and their useful idiots like Jenny McCarthy would bring us to.

Not that they’d ever admit it after it happens.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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