Measles Outbreak Hits AZ Days Before Super Bowl: Over 1,000 People Already Exposed

Measles cases spread across 29 different states

There are seven new confirmed cases of measles across three counties in Arizona that have caused a health scare after those afflicted visited busy hospitals and doctors’ offices, exposing the measles to what may be nearly 1,000 people.

The disease is highly contagious and lingers in the air and on surfaces for hours anywhere a patient breathes. Health officials are warning those who think they may have contracted the disease to stay home.

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Symptoms include fever, rash, swollen glands, seizure, joint pain and encephalitis.

This is what the rash looks like:

With thousands of out-of-towners pouring in for the Super Bowl this week, the potential for the disease to spread to more states increases.

Worst outbreak of measles in over 20 years

One unvaccinated American is behind the biggest measles outbreak in over two decades. In 2014, there were 644 confirmed cases in the U.S. — far higher than any other previous years.

According to the CDC, in 2014, 27 states have reported measles cases. In 2015, 70 cases have already been reported and the number continues to grow. While it doesn’t sound like much, the U.S. had more cases in January this year than in the entire year of 2012.

It all started with an Amish missionary who had returned to the U.S. from a religious mission in the Philippines. This particular Amish community refused to vaccinate their children after two members became ill after an MMR vaccine shot in 1990, so fear combined with strict rejection of modernization left the community vulnerable; the Philippines being an underdeveloped nation makes it a breeding ground for old diseases where poor families cannot afford medical care or immunizations. Most measles cases seen in the U.S. come from travel abroad.

The measles spread quickly throughout the Amish town. A person from the community called the Ohio health department from a pay phone in April 2014 to make the department aware of the disease’s presence. More than half the confirmed cases in the U.S. have been in Amish colony in Ohio. The measles outbreak was confined to Amish only but it shows how pervasive a virus can be when introduced to an unprotected cluster of people. The Ohio Department of Health was called into the community and vaccinated those untouched by the measles, the reported cases drastically declined after the immunization and the outbreak was reported to be over in August of 2014.

At the end of December 2014, Disneyland changed from the most magical place on Earth to a measles breeding ground, and it’s believed that the cases in California have caused the cases now seen in Arizona. The California Department of Health has confirmed 59 cases in California with 42 cases originating from Disneyland.

Misinformation, baseless fears about vaccines to blame

In 2000, the federal government announced that the disease had been eradicated, with enough people vaccinated that the disease had no chance of thriving because of what’s called “herd immunity,” meaning that if a person carried measles into the U.S., so many of our citizens would have been immunized that the disease wouldn’t be able to find a host. Without a chance to find an immediate host, the virus would likely die before it reached an unvaccinated person.

With more people opting out of immunizing their children, these diseases such as pertussis and measles continue to rise.

National Journal

National Journal

Now, the U.S. is experiencing the foreseeable consequences that came from the anti-vax crowd — the naturalists who believe vaccines cause autism or contain volatile chemicals (both baseless claims) and therefore refuse to vaccinate their children — as our herd immunity weakens, the disease gains its ability to spread from unvaccinated adults and children, to newborns, to children with cancer or other illnesses that have compromised their immune system.

So while the anti-vax crowd insists others “just immunize their own children and they have nothing to worry about,” they’re gambling with not only the health and lives of their own children but the lives of children with compromised immune systems. For example if an medically exempt unvaccinated child with Leukemia were to contract the measles, it could be deadly and that’s completely irresponsible and reckless.

Click here for an easy-to-understand scientific explanation that debunks anti-vax arguments.

While the evil part of me takes joy in seeing anti-vaxxers suffer from preventable diseases, it isn’t the insane parents that suffer because most anti-vaxxers have actually been vaccinated (and while they’re morons, I don’t think it’s vaccine related). The people who bare the burden of pseudoscience are their innocent and unsuspecting offspring who become casualties in the battle of ideology and science, and ultimately become the vessels that carry diseases that can potentially kill infants, toddlers, and immune-compromised children and adults. Don’t procrastinate, vaccinate!

H/T: Vox | Photo: ABC15

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