Measles Outbreak Raises Vaccination Anxieties For Parents

While the Ebola virus appears to be on the decline, the measles outbreak in the United States is reportedly on the rise. According to The Detroit Free Press, about 100 cases of the measles have been reported in the U.S since last December, the second-biggest outbreak in at least 15 years. Most of these cases have been traced directly or indirectly to Disneyland in Southern, California.”

There are now  14 states affected with the measles outbreak: California, Colorado, Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, New York,Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Texas and Washington, but the disease can easily spread to other states as well.

Measles is typically brought into the United States by tourists, including children, who get infected with the virus while travelling outside the country. Some of the symptoms associated with the measles virus include high fever, bronchitis, pneumonia, hearing damage and encephalitis (swelling of the brain.) The latest outbreak hasn’t claimed any lives yet, but it might if left untreated, says Dr.Robert Pearl in an article in  Forbes. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that infants between the ages of 12-15 months get a MMRV(Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella) shot, as well as young children between the ages of 4-6 years of age.

Health officials, schools and federal and state governments are strongly suggesting that everyone, including children  get vaccinated, but there are families that are refusing to vaccinate their children. They are particularly fearful of giving their children the vaccine shot all because of the side effects they believe the vaccine causes. In a recent interview, Laura Roush, a mother of four, told The Detroit News that the severity of the side effects of the vaccine shot is one of the primary reasons why she is firmly against the vaccine shot in the first place.

When Roush vaccinated her first child, her daughter began experiencing memory and behavioral problems right after she received the shot. “It was like she had a completely different personality from the time she was in pre-school and when she went to kindergarten,” Roush said. “The damage was cumulative,” she added. As a result,  when her daughter was just eight years old, she was diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) along with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder.)

Roush’s other daughter, who had her shots at one year old, developed a “petechiae rash” or bleeding into the skin four days after her shot. She was also vomiting on a frequent basis, causing her to lose three pounds in just one month. According to Roush, it took three years for the girl’s appetite to return to normal and nine months for the rash to go away completely. Her other two children have not received the vaccine shot and are in excellent health. Roush firmly believes that the decision to vaccinate or not should be the parents’ sole decision and not anyone else’s.

An increasing number of families are refusing to vaccinate their children because of the increasingly widespread belief that the MMRV vaccine is directly linked to the incidence of Autism. Scientific research has not substantiated that theory, which remains highly speculative. While scientists have not yet identified the causes of Autism, many researchers have come to accept the hypothesis that the condition stems from abnormalities in the brain structure, and may be related to genetic abnormalities in the brain that affect the production of serotonin.

Measles can be potentially serious, especially for children younger than five years old. It usually begins with a high fever followed by a cough, a runny nose, red eyes and eventually tiny red dots that break out all over the person’s infected body. Finally, when one person experiences the onset of measles symptoms and then comes into contact with another, then that is usually when the outbreak occurs. While many parents believe that the vaccine is harmful to their children, the CDC   wants families to know that the “the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is 97% effective at preventing measles” according to The Detroit Free Press. 

Like Laura Roush, President Barack Obama also believes that decisions regarding vaccination shots should be left entirely to the parents, but he also believes that parents should follow advice from health officials as well as their children’s doctors about protecting their kids from this current outbreak that is quickly spreading across the U.S.

According to Forbes, the U.S. had 644 measles cases in 27 states in 2014,  the highest number of measles cases since the year 2000, which doesn’t include the 100 recent cases. The latest outbreak came from a daycare center in Illinois, where it is believed that five infants have been infected with the virus. As the virus continues to spread, doctors are advising that adults get re-vaccinated as a means of preventing them from passing the contagious disease on to their own children.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, adults 58 or older are not advised to get the vaccine since they already lived through the measles epidemic which occurred more than 15 years ago. Anyone born after 1957 should consider getting vaccinated. Others who are advised to get the vaccine include of health care professionals, college students, frequent travelers and women of childbearing age.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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