Thursday, March 17, 2011

More Cases of Measles in Minnesota, 3 of 4 Hospitalized

UPDATE: On Wednesday, 3/23/11, a 10th case of measles has been confirmed in Minnesota. Like 4 of the other cases, the latest was in a child old enough to be vaccinated but had not been. The current tally is: 4 too young to be vaccinated, 5 old enough but unvaccinated and 1 of unknown vaccination status. Half of the cases have been hospitalized and there are, as yet, no deaths from this outbreak.

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 4 6 cases. Let me repeat that: in the past 5 years, only 6 cases; in the past week, 4 6 cases. Got that, Dr. Jay "4 cases is an outbreak?" Gordon?

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.


  1. So my question is in regards to the common theme that vaccines are a money maker for "Big Pharma": How many MMR vaccines can be given for the cost of the hospitalizations of the four children?

    I remember the bills for my son's hospital stays when he was small were not trivial, and that was twenty years ago!

  2. @Chris

    Based on the MN Hospital Price Checker, one day's stay for "Signs and Symptoms w/o Major Complications or Comorbidities" in a Hennepin County hospital averages around $5,000. From the CDC's vaccine price list we find that MMR costs the CDC $18.63/dose or $50.16/dose for the private sector. That means that for one individual's cost for one day of hospitalization, we could immunize 89-245 people.

    I don't know exact costs for all of the medical products used during hospitalization to parse out what goes for the hospital and what goes to "Big Pharma", but this should give some idea of the cost for immunization vs. caring for one serious case of measles.

  3. You know, I could make a MILLION jokes about porn and Jenny McCarthy, but I never attacked her views on vaccines from that angle. On the other hand, Dr. Jay seems to believe that explaining to him what an outbreak is (and is not) is "statistical porn". Yeah, I MUST be doing it for the entertainment of the masses (or even my own).

    Can you imagine if I said or wrote something like that? No health department would ever employ me, I'm sure.

    Seriously, WTF?


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