Unvaccinated behind largest U.S. measles outbreak in years

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    Oct 22, 2011 1:40 PM GMT
    The results of bad science.

    http://m.usatoday.com/article/yourlife/50852098?preferredArticleViewMode=single

    The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles), is designed to be given to infants 12 to 15 months old with a second shot given when the child is four to six, according to the CDC.

    By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay

    Updated: 10/21/2011 12:04pm

    The largest U.S. outbreak of measles to occur in 15 years -- affecting 214 children so far -- is likely driven by travelers returning from abroad and by too many unvaccinated U.S. children, according to new research.

    The finding could highlight the dangers of a trend among some U.S. parents to skip the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine for their children, out of what many experts call misguided fears over its safety.

    Dr. Andrew Pavia, professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah and spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), said, "The good news is that we are seeing introductions of measles that are being contained as small outbreaks."

    Pavia credits containment to high levels of vaccination and thevacci rapid response by public health officials. However, if an outbreak occurred in a "really susceptible population the outcome could be very different," he said.

    "What would happen in an area with a lot of vaccine refusers? Then you might see a much larger outbreak," he said.

    Several measles-related studies were unveiled at the annual IDSA annual meeting, currently being held in Boston.

    In the first report, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers chronicled the nation's ongoing outbreaks in 2011.

    Most of those sickened were not vaccinated against the disease, CDC researchers said.

    Before the vaccine became available in the 1960s, some three to four million people contracted measles every year. Of those, 48,000 were hospitalized, 1,000 were permanently disabled and about 500 died, the CDC said.

    Unfortunately, "we have experienced an increased incidence of measles this year," said Huong McLean, lead researcher and CDC epidemiologist. "Typically we see 60 to 70 cases a year, this year we have 214 as of Oct. 14."

    Among those people infected, 86 percent were unvaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown. Thirteen percent were under one year old -- too young for vaccination.

    Throughout the United States, 68 of the patients have been hospitalized, 12 with pneumonia.

    Most of these cases occurred among people who traveled overseas to Western Europe, Africa or Asia, where vaccination rates are lower, and the disease is an ongoing problem, the researchers note.

    McLean said that the vaccination coverage in the United states remains relatively high, about 90 percent. "However, measles is very contagious and can spread quickly in communities where people aren't vaccinated," she said.

    "The vaccine is very safe and effective in preventing the disease," McLean said. The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles), is designed to be given to infants 12 to 15 months old with a second shot given when the child is four to six, according to the CDC.

    The Minnesota Department of Health released figures on a state outbreak, which started in March with an unvaccinated child, aged two and a half , who had traveled to Kenya. The child attended a drop-in Minnesota child care center. Overall, 21 people were infected and 14 hospitalized.

    "Health care providers together with public health and community leaders must address growing vaccine hesitancy to ensure high immunization rates in all communities," Pam Gahr, a senior health department epidemiologist, said in an IDSA news release.

    Not only is measles highly contagious, it's also expensive to contain its spread, according a third meeting presentation.

    Dr. Karyn Leniek, deputy state epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health, said an outbreak occurred when one unvaccinated high school student, who had been to Europe, brought measles back with him.

    Although only nine people became infected, the cost of containing the outbreak was about $300,000. Costs included infection control in two area hospitals and intervention by local and state health departments. Costs also included physician and staff time, vaccines, immunoglobulin and blood tests, according to the study.

    Containing the outbreak meant contacting 12,000 people about possible exposure and quarantining 184 people, including 51 students. Of the teens not vaccinated, including the European traveler, six were unvaccinated due to personal exemptions.

    "Personal exemptions include philosophical or any other unspecified non-medical exemption," the researchers noted.

    "It is always a concern to have a large number of unvaccinated people in close proximity," Leniek said in an IDSA statement. "Our goal is to have as many people vaccinated as possible to protect those who cannot receive the vaccine and who are not fully immunized."

    Another Thursday presentation centered on a large measles outbreak in Quebec, Canada: the largest since 1989, with 757 cases as of October 5.

    That outbreak started with 18 people who traveled abroad, most to Europe. Among those infected, 505 had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was not known, and 70 had received only one doses of the vaccine, according to the report.

    "This outbreak is being fed largely on unvaccinated or undervaccinated people, but we were concerned that a significant number had received the recommended two doses of MMR vaccine," Philippe Belanger, an epidemiologist at Ministere de la Sant et des Services Sociaux du Quebec, Montreal, said in the releases.

    To keep measles at bay, Pavia said public health officials should be on the outlook for measles and the high level of vaccination needs to be maintained.

    "The ongoing fear of the measles vaccine and the myths about measles vaccine and autism just won't go away -- and put us at continuous risk," Pavia said. One such myth, according to most experts, is that the shot might cause autism in children. That notion spread after a British researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, published a study in The Lancet in 1998 claiming a link. The research was later discovered to be fraudulent, however, and the journal has since retracted the article.

    Pavia stressed that when parents decide against vaccinating their child, their action may affect other kids, as well.

    "Your child might get measles and do well. But if you are the one who brings measles back into the community and your child infects someone else in the classroom who can't be vaccinated because of being immunocompromised, you might be responsible for the death of another child or an infant who can't be vaccinated," he said.
  • Lincsbear

    Posts: 2605

    Oct 22, 2011 1:59 PM GMT
    I believe Dr. Andrew Wakefield was also involved with other dodgy characters in the medical/legal claims world-a very toxic mix.
  • nanidesukedo

    Posts: 1036

    Oct 22, 2011 3:35 PM GMT
    This is what happens when kooks like Jenny McCarthy and Michelle Bachmann are sitting around and telling people that vaccinations are harmful. While Bachmann only made a stupid, anecdotal comment about the HPV vaccine, people tend to generalize and will think "hey, if the HPV vaccine can cause mental retardation, I bet all the other ones can, too!" It's rare that I work with children, considering my scope of practice, but I consider it child abuse to not get your kids vaccinated.

    What people don't remember is this: Vaccines aren't just for your protection. When you get vaccinated, you protect your family, your friends, your coworkers, and anyone else you come in contact with. Stop being selfish and get the damned vaccine.
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    Oct 22, 2011 3:50 PM GMT
    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/gop-budget-cdc-vaccines-cut
  • nanidesukedo

    Posts: 1036

    Oct 22, 2011 4:16 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidhttp://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/gop-budget-cdc-vaccines-cut


    Really? That's disgusting. Someone should show them a video of a kid with Pertussis or a kid with epiglottitis or meningitis caused by Haemophilus Influenzae type B.....
  • musclmed

    Posts: 3284

    Oct 22, 2011 4:33 PM GMT
    nanidesukedo saidThis is what happens when kooks like Jenny McCarthy and Michelle Bachmann are sitting around and telling people that vaccinations are harmful. While Bachmann only made a stupid, anecdotal comment about the HPV vaccine, people tend to generalize and will think "hey, if the HPV vaccine can cause mental retardation, I bet all the other ones can, too!" It's rare that I work with children, considering my scope of practice, but I consider it child abuse to not get your kids vaccinated.

    What people don't remember is this: Vaccines aren't just for your protection. When you get vaccinated, you protect your family, your friends, your coworkers, and anyone else you come in contact with. Stop being selfish and get the damned vaccine.


    The HPV vaccine cannot be compared to other vaccines and is a poor example.

    There is a legitimate ethical debate about HPV vaccination for boys.


    The recent pertussis outbreak at least on the coasts had been due to lax public school policies. Allowing certain parents to "opt out" and gain the protection of others being vaccinated.

    The simple rule of public school = mandatory vaccination applies. For those parents that insist not to vaccinate. Well they can home school there kids.
  • nanidesukedo

    Posts: 1036

    Oct 22, 2011 4:47 PM GMT
    musclmed said

    The HPV vaccine cannot be compared to other vaccines and is a poor example.

    There is a legitimate ethical debate about HPV vaccination for boys.


    The recent pertussis outbreak at least on the coasts had been due to lax public school policies. Allowing certain parents to "opt out" and gain the protection of others being vaccinated.

    The simple rule of public school = mandatory vaccination applies. For those parents that insist not to vaccinate. Well they can home school there kids.


    I have yet to see anything stating that the HPV vaccine is unsafe...or even if there are side-effects, causes anything remotely close to mental retardation...So, I think it's a comparable example. Also, considering that it has to be given before sexual activity for it to be effective, it's on the onus of the parents to get it for their children.
  • Lincsbear

    Posts: 2605

    Oct 24, 2011 2:50 PM GMT
    It`s an unfortunate consequence of things that work routinely well; they get taken for granted to the point of disregard.

    It`s a peverse testament to the success/efficacy of the MMR vaccine in the UK that so many have forgotten how hundreds of children in the 1960/70s used to die from measles or suffered lifelong and serious disabilities and complications.

    All medical interventions carry risks; you balance that against the risks of doing nothing.
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    Oct 24, 2011 3:26 PM GMT
    Those rightwingers in California are apparently the most opposed to vaccinations.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-measles-20110922,0,6705186.story

    California leads U.S. in measles cases

    California has outpaced every other state this year, with 28 reported cases. Most of the patients were unvaccinated or likely to lack the vaccination, health officials say.

    As more parents forgo measles vaccinations for their children, the number of Californians contracting the highly contagious disease has reached a 10-year high, outpacing every other state in the nation.

    As of Monday, there were 28 reported cases of measles so far in 2011 — the largest statewide figure reported, according to state and federal health officials. That is the highest incidence since 2001, when 40 people in California reported having measles. There were nine cases in all of 2009 and 27 cases in 2010.

    Of the cases reported this year, 22 of the 28 either were unvaccinated or very likely to lack the vaccine, according to the California Department of Public Health. More than half had recently traveled internationally, including to Asia and Europe, which have seen a drop in immunizations and widespread outbreaks.

    Measles, transmitted through coughing and sneezing, can cause ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea, brain injuries and death. Cases can quickly spread in schools and communities, especially in areas with a high concentration of unvaccinated children, officials said.

    "We are quite concerned in California," said Gil Chavez, deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the state Department of Public Health. "Even one single case that is acquired overseas can expose a lot of individuals."


    As predicted here: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/03/when_the_outbreaks_begin_theyll_start_in.php

    I may have been deluding myself when I talked about 2009 shaping up to be a bad year for antivaccinationists. It turns out that the antivaccine movement is succeeding.

    That's right, a cadre of upper middle class, scientifically illiterate parents, either full of the arrogance of ignorance or frightened by leaders of the antivaccine movement, such as J.B. Handley, Barbara Loe Fisher, Jenny McCarthy, or the rest of the crew at the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism, are succeeding in endangering your children. Although the U.K. got a head start in bringing back the measles and mumps, thanks to Andrew Wakefield's falsified research bought and paid for by trial lawyers suing vaccine manufacturers back in 1998, which sparked a scare over the MMR vaccine that has not yet abated. Here in the U.S., reinvigorated by the obnoxiously bubble-brained purveyor of "Indigo" woo, who since her child Evan was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, has become the face of the antivaccine proquackery propaganda group Generation Rescue, the antivaccine movement has managed to become better funded and more visible than ever, so much so that the U.S. could well be at the verge of going where the U.K. has already gone, into the territory of endemic vaccine-preventable illnesses once previously thought eradicated, such as Hib and measles. Contrary to what antivaccine advocates claim, these are not benign diseases, and they are preventable by vaccines.

    It's only a matter of time before large outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease occur, and when they occur, most likely they will start in California