UPDATE: On Tuesday, 3/22/11, the Minnesota Department of Health announced that the measles outbreak now includes 9 cases. 4 in children too young to have received the vaccine, 4 in children old enough, but who had not been vaccinated and 1 whose vaccination status is unknown. To date, 5 of the 9 have been hospitalized, but are recovering.
UPDATE: On Monday, 3/21/11, a seventh case of measles, in a 7-month-old, was confirmed. That brings the tally to 3 too young to be vaccinated, 3 old enough but unvaccinated due to fear and 1 with unknown vaccination status.
UPDATE: According to the Star Tribune today, March 18, 2011, the total number of cases is up to six. Three are Somali children. Two of the six were too young to be vaccinated. Four of the six have been hospitalized.
Last Friday, one week ago, I wrote about a Minnesota infant contracting measles. That child, too young to be immunized, was hospitalized. In that post, I also called out Dr. Jay Gordon who, on his own web site, states that he does not give or recommend the MMR vaccine. Well, in the past week, three more cases of measles have been reported in Minnesota. Two of the three new cases, like the initial case, were also hospitalized.
And now it looks like I'm going to have to call out Age of Autism's J.B. Handley and disgraced gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, because two of the latest cases are in the Somali community. Two children who, although old enough to be vaccinated, were not because of the fears that Handley and Wakefield fueled in their parents. Two children in a community with declining vaccination rates, thanks to the callous and flat-out wrong nonsense spouted by Handley and his ilk.
Four kids, one too young to be vaccinated, two unvaccinated because of fear of the vaccine and one of unknown vaccination status. Four children, three hospitalized.
Some people, like the aforementioned Dr. Gordon, would suggest that four cases is nothing to worry about, that it is not an outbreak:
The problem here is that we shouldn't be seeing any cases of measles in the U.S. We have an extremely effective (95% or higher) and safe product to prevent measles. Not only that, but measles only infects humans, which means that if enough people worldwide are vaccinated, then, like with smallpox, we would no longer need to use the vaccine.
However, until measles is eradicated worldwide, then, as I've said before, a new infection is just a plane ride away. People like J.B. Handley, Wakefield and the goons at Age of Autism and pediatricians who should know better and do a grave disservice to their patients, like Dr. Gordon, must stop. Through their actions, they promote outbreaks like the ones in Boston and Minnesota. Although currently small, these cases could almost certainly have been prevented through vaccination, either of the children themselves or, in the case of the infant too young to be vaccinated, of those around the kids. Behavior such as suggesting the erroneous notion that vaccines cause autism or actively choosing to tell people that the risks of vaccines outweigh the benefits, despite mountains of scientific evidence to the contrary, is not only reckless and irresponsible, it is abhorrent and despicable.
Vaccinate your children. Protect them, their friends, their families and everyone around them. Do what is right.
Update: Just to put this in perspective, in the past 5 years, there have been six cases of measles. In the past week, there have been
Update 3/21/11: If there was any doubt that Dr. Gordon displays an amazing level of callousness, he had this to say about the Minnesota measles outbreak and how an outbreak is defined:
Yep, taking "a few extra cases" seriously is "pointless." Stay classy, Dr. Gordon. I'm sure the families of those 6 kids think that it's pointless to take the outbreak seriously.