The Measles Outbreak

By now I hope most of you are aware of the evolving measles outbreak right here in Ocean County--4 confirmed cases SO FAR.  The “index (first) case” is an unimmunized child who contracted measles while visiting family in Israel. That nation itself has its own epidemic–1200 cases in 2018, including the death of an 18 mo old, the first Israeli measles fatality since 2003.  Israel’s public health system is state of the art and had previously maintained strong 2 dose compliance but recently has seen its immunization rate slip, mostly among a few groups of ultra-Orthodox worshippers. That problem has been imported to Rockland County NY and now here.

We should pause and note that this is becoming something of a worldwide phenomenon–its happening in Europe too.  In 2018 there are 41,000 cases of measles SO FAR including 41 deaths.  We can all recall other recent outbreaks–2013 383 Amish children in Ohio,  2014 starting with an un-immunized child in Disneyland in California, and in 2015 among un-immunized Somali immigrants in Minnesota.  Furthermore, latest data here in the US are that the rate of un-immunized children, while still low,  has quadrupled in the last 15 years–from 0.3% to 1.3%. It is also important to recall statistics from prior to measles vaccine licensure in 1963.  In the preceding decades, virtually all Americans contracted measles in childhood (3-4 million cases) with 48,000 hospitalizations, over 1,000 children with encephalitis complications and 400-500 deaths every year.  By  2,000, US measles was essentially eradicated, with no instances of epidemic spread reported domestically anywhere.

So, unfortunately, it would seem that this developing problem is very predictable and largely self inflicted–we are doing it to ourselves.  We have taken note of the effects locally of  recent social media posts which are very emotional, very sympathetic, but also very wrong.  Additionally, the current infected Ocean County individuals–and large segments of the so called “anti-vaxxers”– site “religious exemptions” as their justification.  But a review of established US religious groups demonstrates only one smaller denomination–Dutch Reformed–which includes vaccine refusal as an accepted tenant of faith.  All other groups official position is to actively encourage their congregants to be immunized.  So this rational is simply untrue; its mostly a myth.  Their is essentially NO organized US religious group basis to decline to immunize.

But here we are in 2014 and, like “Poltergeist”–“their BA-ack…”  I urge you all to keep these things in mind the next time someone tries to convince you of the “dangers” of vaccines.

Thank you for following.