The United States is experiencing a record number of measles cases with 603 confirmed measles cases since January 2014 which is the highest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000, as reported by the CDC.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization) nearly 150,000 children died in 2013 from Measles, worldwide, which is a nearly 20% jump compared to last year.
Before vaccines were introduced nearly every child in the US contracted the disease by the age of 15. About three million to four million people were infected annually. Of those, the disease killed between 450 and 500 people each year, put 48,000 in the hospital, caused 7,000 to have seizures and left 1,000 with permanent hearing or brain damage.According to an article in the Guardian, outbreaks are being driven by unvaccinated people, primarily US residents, contracting measles in other countries, bringing the virus back to the US and spreading it to others in communities with relatively low vaccination rates.
According to the WHO, there is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within 2–3 weeks. However, particularly in malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia.
What has happened to go from “extinction” of US measles in 2000 to 600+ cases this year alone?
Everyone doesn’t have to be vaccinated to prevent the spread of the disease. Scientist found that “herd immunity” protects society as long as over 95% of people are vaccinated. Unfortunately, the rates of vaccination have fallen below 95 percent and in some areas, such as Los Angeles and New York, unvaccinated rates are approaching 8%.
Why are people not vaccinating their children and where did the autism fear come from?
Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist, published in The Lancet a study of 12 children that posited a causal link between the measles vaccine and an intestinal disorder and autism. Subsequently, dozens of peer-reviewed studies based on the experience of millions of children found nothing to support such speculation, and in 2010 The Lancet retracted the study, citing fraudulent data and ethics violations. The same year, the British Medical Council barred Dr. Wakefield from practicing medicine because of ethical lapses.
Pediatricians and infectious disease experts warned that these parents were putting their unvaccinated children at increased risk. Measles remains the eighth leading cause of mortality worldwide and the greatest vaccine-preventable cause of death among children. Studies have shown that unvaccinated children are 35 times more likely to contract the disease than immunized children.
“If current trends continue, more children will suffer the effects of this highly dangerous, extremely contagious, but easily preventable disease,” Jos Vandelaer, head of UNICEF’s immunization programs.