There are things that we like to think that we, as a nation, have removed. Back in the year 2000, the childhood illness measles became one of those things. And then on December 2014 we learned that we cannot assume something is gone because we do not see it. Measles reappeared. Since the outbreak started, there are now over 100 cases in multiple states, including 91 in California and Mexico, when the average year has 220 nationwide.
The outbreak had its beginnings at Disneyland, which was visited by an unvaccinated, infected woman. Of California’s 91 cases, 58 can be linked to Disneyland. According to The Guardian, the virus was then spread “through airports and the theme park.” And from there, it was able to move between states, so far California, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington have confirmed measles cases.
So, what exactly does the measles virus do? The Center for Disease Control has called it “‘the most deadly of the childhood rash/fever illnesses,’” according to The Guardian, although there are yet to be any reported deaths from this particular outbreak. Those with the disease have a fever, rash, red eyes, and coughing, while the virus resides in the nose and throat. This is highly contagious, (ninety percent of people nearby, who are not immune would also contract it) and is transmitted through coughs and sneezes. It has also been reported that even children that have been vaccinated can get the disease.
There is a vaccine that can be administered, which is said to be ninety-nine percent effective. However, there is also a movement against vaccinations that has been growing. The people in this movement believe that there are side effects of the vaccine that outweigh its benefits. Among these side effects were allegedly autism, but science has debunked this connection, according to The Guardian.
There are also people who refuse to get their children vaccinated due to religious and other personal reasons. Through spokesperson Josh Earnest, the White House has urged people to follow the advice of scientists and public health officials by getting their children vaccinated. However, this movement has been linked to a spike in the number of measles cases in 2014 when they reached 644 nationwide.
The anti-vaccine sentiment has grown more in wealthy areas, such as Orange County, which is not far from Disneyland than in others. According to The Guardian, the people in this movement have become a threat to “herd immunity.” Reports have stated that this is “a level of inoculation high enough to protect even the most vulnerable such as newborns, the elderly and people with auto-immune conditions.” California in particular reportedly has more lax rules for vaccinations, and a disproportionate number of affluent, protective parents, who do not want their children vaccinated.