From The Amish To Daycares: Measles Is On The Rise In 2015

The anti-vaccination movement and its push-back seems to have reached a peak in 2015, brought on by the recent outbreak of measles across the United States. Not a day goes by without hearing of another disastrous outbreak, the most recent being five infants at suburban Chicago’s KinderCareLearning Center. So far, Illinois health officials don’t know of a connection to the December outbreak at Disneyland.

More than 100 people have been diagnosed with the disease that was largely diminished in the United States decades ago, with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirming cases in 14 states.

The Chicago daycare center is part of KinderCareLearning, the nation’s largest private provider of early childhood education. The company’s reminded employees of their policy that those who work with unvaccinated infants must themselves be vaccinated.

“As always, we are being vigilant about enforcing our policy of excluding children from care when they are sick,” KinderCare spokeswoman Colleen Moran said via email. “We are also working with families and staff members in our centers to double-check and update their immunization records.”

The issue to opt out of vaccinating children varies from state to state, 48 states allow for exemption because of religious reasons and 20 allow for personal reasons. That could be changing though, as many believe public safety takes precedence.

There’s also the issue of blame.

While many in the media and are quick to point the blame on anti-vaxer celebrities like Jenny McCarthy for giving poor information to parents, the largest outbreak of measles last year was in rural Ohio. Out of the 644 measles cases reported last year, an astonishing 382 were in Ohio Amish communities. A recent profile in Vox highlights a missionary that returned from the Philippines and brought measles into Amish country.

In the Ohio case, “patient zero” had traveled to the Philippines on a missionary trip. (In case you were wondering, he took a plane. Miller explained, “Some Amish fly. Some don’t.”) At the time, the Philippines happened to be facing a massive measles outbreak, with tens of thousands of cases.

When he returned to Ohio, and fell ill, a doctor misdiagnosed him with Dengue fever, so he continued to pass his disease along to friends and neighbors, many of whom had refused the vaccine out of those concerns over adverse effects.

Measles, while not often deadly in adults, is incredibly contagious and spread easily in the Amish where contact is largely limited to word of mouth. Jacqueline Fletcher, a public health nursing director in Ohio, had to go door to door with her team to educated people and make sure pregnant women and babies too young to be vaccinated weren’t being put at risk. “Because the Amish don’t have phones, we had to go out to their homes,” said Fletcher.

As the small, yet dangerous anti-vaccination continues to spur new cases parents will continue looking to health officials and law makers who seem to be scrambling to find a solution.

new-yorker-cartoon-measles The cartoon from this week’s New Yorker.

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