On June 9, Minnesota officials announced the state’s worst measles outbreak in years is over.
I was going to write a post about the measles epidemic, but I’m happy to say it’s been contained. Thankfully, no deaths occurred as a result of the outbreak.
No thanks to Andrew Wakefield and the anti-vax community.
Anti-vaxers are directly responsible for the fear mongering that led to this recent measles outbreak in the first place. Wakefield and anti-vax organizations like Generation Rescue & Autism One have been throwing fuel on the fire in the Somali community (where the measles outbreak originated) here in Minnesota.
Some quick stats. For the past decade, MN has reported 0 to 1 cases of measles per year. As of May 2011, 23 cases have been reported. At least seven cases were in children too young to be vaccinated.
The awesome anti-vax nonsense fighter & author of the book The Panic Virus, Seth Mnookin, points out this scary fact–
Measles is the most infectious microbe known to man–it’s transmission rate is around 90 percent. It has also killed more children than any other disease in history.
I wonder if
Dr. (ooops, my mistake)Wakefield’s aware of this?
The thing is, there seems to be an unusually high percentage of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder within Minnesota’s Somali community. Although at this point health officials say it’s “hard to tell whether the apparent surge of cases is an actual outbreak, with a cause that can be addressed, or just a statistical fluke.”
More from a 2009 New York Times article on this issue:
Antivaccine groups have noticed. In November, J. B. Handley, a founder of Generation Rescue, which advocates treating autistic children with wheat- and dairy-free diets, vitamins and chelation to remove mercury, wrote an open letter to “Courageous Somali Parents.”
He warned them not to trust the state health department and suggested they slow down their children’s shots and get exemptions to school vaccination requirements. He also offered to pay for some to attend an antivaccine conference.
The appeal has had an effect. Many parents, including Ayub’s, now say that their children’s autism began after seizures that started after they got shots.
“People in the Somali community have gravitated to that theory, and many are resisting immunization,” Dr. McLellan said.
Damn, this just grinds my gears.
And finally, from MPR News, reporter Rupa Shenoy writes:
All the Somali parents I spoke to at the meeting knew about Wakefield’s past. But they said they would listen to anyone who might know something that could help their children.
That’s the hardest thing to fight. It’s completely understandable.