CDC Reports Increased Number of Measles Cases in Q1, 2008

May 2, 2008

The Centers for Disease Control reported a higher number of measles cases in the US for first quarter 2008 in a recent report [h/t: occasional commenter ddt].

However, during January 1–April 25, 2008, a total of 64 confirmed measles cases were preliminarily reported to CDC, the most reported by this date for any year since 2001. Of the 64 cases, 54 were associated with importation of measles from other countries into the United States, and 63 of the 64 patients were unvaccinated or had unknown or undocumented vaccination status.

The CDC also took the opportunity for directly addressing idiot anti-vaccination parents such as the ones causing the San Diego measles scare. Bravo.

Idiot anti-vaccination parents are gently informed by the CDC overview:

These cases remind us that it is important to vaccinate children and adults to protect them against measles. Even though the ongoing transmission of measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, the disease is still common in other parts of the world and can be imported into the U.S. from many countries, including countries in Europe. Worldwide, 20 million cases of measles still occur each year, and the disease is a significant cause of vaccine-preventable death among children. In 2005, 311,000 children under age 5 died from the disease.

The Editorial Note at the end of the original report is a little more direct:

Before introduction of measles vaccination in 1963, approximately 3 to 4 million persons had measles annually in the United States; approximately 400–500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis (1). Even after elimination of endemic transmission in 2000, imported measles has continued to create a substantial U.S. public health burden; of the 501 measles cases reported during 2000–2007, one in four patients was hospitalized, and one in 250 died (1).

Right. Get it people? Measles can be a nasty disease. While you may have nice bucolic childhood memories of being pampered by Mommy through your measles and chicken pox without lasting effects, your personal anecdote doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who died!

The limited size of recent measles outbreaks in the United States has resulted from highly effective measles and MMR vaccines, preexisting high vaccination coverage levels in preschool and school-aged children, and a rapid and effective public health response.

I think I failed to mention this before when I noted the Today Show piece on measles but the perspective expressed by the anti-vaccination parent was just horrifying. Her position seemed to be essentially “Why should I risk my precious darling for public health goals?”. I imagine this attitude is common to the anti-vaccination position. It is a SELFISH position people! You live in a society, like it or not, although frankly you give every evidence of enjoying many fruits of this society. One of the things you do when joining societies is that you give up some personal liberties in the pursuit of greater benefits. If you can’t understand this you are a selfish idiot jerkwad. I think the rest of society should seriously consider voting you off the island for certain of these selfish behaviors, but that’s just me.

Many of the measles cases in children in 2008 have occurred among children whose parents claimed exemption from vaccination because of religious or personal beliefs and in infants too young to be vaccinated. Forty-eight states currently allow religious exemptions to school vaccination requirements, and 21 states allow exemptions based on personal beliefs.*** During 2002 and 2003, nonmedical exemption rates were higher in states that easily granted exemptions than states with medium or difficult exemption processes (7); in such states, the process of claiming a nonmedical exemption might require less effort than fulfilling vaccination requirements (8).

Although national vaccination levels are high, unvaccinated children tend to be clustered geographically or socially, increasing their risk for outbreaks (6,9). An upward trend in the mean proportion of school children who were not vaccinated because of personal belief exemptions was observed from 1991 to 2004 (7). Increases in the proportion of persons declining vaccination for themselves or their children might lead to large-scale outbreaks in the United States, such as those that have occurred in other countries (e.g., United Kingdom and Netherlands) (10).

Right. So when you associate with fellow anti-vaccination idiot parents you make the situation even worse (the SD measles scare involved a charter school with lower than city-average vaccination rates). When you promote your anti-vaccination woo to parents in families with which you plan to associate your non-vaccinated disease-breeder children, ditto.
You. Are. Bad. Fellow.Citizens!

CDC citations:
(1) Orenstein WA, Papania MJ, Wharton ME. Measles elimination in the United States. J Infect Dis 2004;189(Suppl 1):S1–3.
(6) Parker AA, Staggs W, Dayan GH, et al. Implications of a 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana for sustained elimination of measles in the United States. N Engl J Med 2006;355:447–55.
(7) Omer SB, Pan WK, Halsey NA, et al. Nonmedical exemptions to school immunization requirements: secular trends and association of state policies with pertussis incidence. JAMA 2006;296:1757–63.
(8) Rota JS, Salmon DA, Rodewald LE, Chen RT, Hibbs BF, Gangarosa EJ. Processes for obtaining nonmedical exemptions to state immunization laws. Am J Public Health 2001;91:645–8.
(9) Smith PJ, Chu SY, Barker LE. Children who have received no vaccines: who are they and where do they live? Pediatrics 2004;114:187–95.

11 Responses to “CDC Reports Increased Number of Measles Cases in Q1, 2008”

  1. _Arthur Says:

    And, as long theyre not vaccinatting for measles, they won’t vaccinate for Rubella either, putting unborn children of their neighborhood at risk, too: charming.


  2. Lenora Says:

    The thought of Rubella coming back really scares me. There are many young, undocumented nannies in my city. They are constantly around children in the parks, children’s museums and pools. I wonder how many of these young women have been vaccinated. In a Rubella outbreak their unborn children would be at terrible risk.


  3. drdrA Says:

    ‘You live in a society, like it or not, although frankly you give every evidence of enjoying many fruits of this society. One of the things you do when joining societies is that you give up some personal liberties in the pursuit of greater benefits. If you can’t understand this you are a selfish idiot jerkwad. I think the rest of society should seriously consider voting you off the island for certain of these selfish behaviors, but that’s just me.’
    Ok, I was freaked out by bikemonkey’s unexpected posting of Tom Lehrer lyrics (since I thought that I was the only person in the universe who remembers these songs) and now this? Maybe I’ve just been living in a red state too long and I’m feeling isolated…
    geez- why is it that seemingly so few people GET this??? …. not just about vaccination (THE single most successful public health program that we have outside of clean water and sanitation) but about contributing to the greater good of society in other ways including CASH for the things they all benefit from …


  4. Interrobang Says:

    geez- why is it that seemingly so few people GET this???
    In my not so humble opinion, there are several reasons. One is the availability heuristic — humans suck at risk assessment, so small, prosaic risks that nevertheless kill lots of people don’t get the attention they deserve. (Experiment time: Buttonhole any six random people and ask them which they think is safer, flying or driving. Then ask them how many people they know who’ve been in car accidents, versus how many people they know who’ve been in plane crashes.) Asking someone to pay for a risk they don’t see unless they’re really thinking about it provokes a lot of selfish responses.
    Reason number two that I can think of is that there’s now a lot of “conventional wisdom” (aka successfully catapulted propaganda and manufactured consent) that leads most people to have a knee-jerk anti-tax reaction. (This is what 40 years of institutionalised right-wing “Screw you, Jack, I’ve got mine” memetic dominance of the discourse will get you.) So people don’t see the benefits they get from paying taxes or making other sacrifices for the public good, for that matter, in part because those benefits are things they take for granted, and in part because there are a lot of social pressures schooling people not to see those benefits.
    Thirdly, never underestimate the collective stupidity of people in groups. It doesn’t take much for a dumb idea to infiltrate an identity group and propagate among it, even to the point where it becomes an integral part of the self-definition of that particular identity. So, you wind up with people who belong to some particular fringe group adopting beliefs from other groups. (Someone here on ScienceBlogs referred to these people as “syncretins.”)


  5. Jen Says:

    Wow! This article sounds more like idiot propaganda than what people who choose not to vaccinate are basing their decisions on. Let them weigh the risks and benfits for themselves. If the MMR vaccine is so effective then the vaccinated should have nothing to worry about, right?!?! What about the staggering numbers of children effected by autism, asthsma, allergies,seizures and chronic gastrointestinal problems? Many of these stats rise when more vaccines are introduced and mandated which makes the numbers of children actually getting the measles and dying significantly lower. It would be nice if we could have alternate scheduling of vaccines, stop unnecessarily vaccinating newborns against Hep B, and infants against chicken pox (these can wait until a child is 12) and remove heavy metals and toxins taken out of the vaccines, or better regulation of vaccine production in CHINA, instead of inspecting the production sites every 12 years, how about every year, I mean it is something being injected into a child’s body right?!? Shouldn’t our government care at least a little?!? Well its obvious we know that answer, remember when toys produced in china contained high levels of lead and many of our children were exposed to that, then allowing our children to drink out of toxic baby bottles conatining BPA and phthalates…where is the safety and regulation?!? You say that anti-vax parents are irresponsible?!? Well I say that anyone who doesn’t question what is being put into our children’s bodies and where it came from, how it was produced being irresponsible. How about our government that is supposed to protect us, remember “for the people, by the people?” Let’s face it, many parents are left with so much distrust for our doctors, our government that they feel they must not vaccinate because the safety is VERY questionable, just like the safety of new pharmeceutical drugs, and safety of toys. More research (unbiased) needs to be conducted. Parents needs doctors (not vaccine bullies who are getting their kicks from a free lunch with a Merck rep) they can trust and a new vaccine schedule should be considered until research is done. I wish I had known to be an “idiot selfish jerkwad anti-vaxer” before i had my son vaccinated as an infant, I wish i had stopped after his total regression into autism after a round of shots which the doctor told me was “normal”. Now its too late (although my son is recovering with biomedical and behavioral therapy) but by letting others know I could save other parents and children from this experience.


  6. DrugMonkey Says:

    start here, my antiscience and reality-denying friends.

    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.


  7. kay Says:

    If you want to be taken seriously, you must stop the name calling. (i.e. “you are a selfish idiot jerkwad”) Very unprofessional. Very childish. Regardless of my position on vaccines, I do not take your article seriously. It’s too adolescent.


  8. trollar Says:

    Personally, I’m glad I’m vaccinated. I will gladly vaccinate my kids as well. The risk:reward ratio is low enough I’m willing to take a chance on this. Why should we die of measels and things like that at this age? Should we go back to playing Oregon Trail and die of dysentery too?
    Hey kay, thanks for not contributing anything to the discussion. Troll.


  9. Onnd Says:

    Did it ever occur to some of you anti-vaccine people that autism depends on many factors, one of which is GENETICS. Look in the mirror before you start suing everybody and keeping treatments that will affect thousands, if not millions of people. Support the human life sciences so we can get down the causes and treatments. Thanks.


  10. Katie Says:

    It’s not name calling if you ARE a selfish idiot jerkwad. Not sure exactly what a jerkwad is, but if you don’t vaccinate your kids you are selfish and you are an idiot. It’s just the facts.
    The good news is that Darwin’s theories are still in play, and these morons will eventually just select themselves right out of the gene pool. Just like those parents who refuse to take their deathly ill children to the hospital because they believe their god will save them. I do, however, feel bad for the kids; it’s a shame they have to suffer for their parents’ mistakes.


  11. Larchnut Says:

    Next thing you know these poor deluded fools will be arguing against treated drinking water, sewage treatment and trash collection. You never hear about autism in the Dark Ages do you? Huh? Huh?!!?!!


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