WASHBURN COUNTY -- Measles is spreading like wildfire across the U.S., reaching over 800 individual cases as of May 10. It is extremely contagious and easily spreads through the air. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 out of 10 unvaccinated people will get measles if exposed to it.
Measles is a serious disease that results in the death of 1 or 2 people out of every 1,000 cases, regardless of medical care. The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is very effective – so why do we have over 800 cases of measles after the disease was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000?
The long-discredited publication of falsified data claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and autism has continued to flourish on the internet and across social media, despite the article’s retraction and the doctor at the helm losing his medical license. Misinformation campaigns have led to hesitancy among parents to vaccinate their children.
In Washburn County, 1/3 of two-year-olds have not had the MMR vaccine and are unprotected against measles. Not only are those children at risk of getting measles, but they put friends, family, classmates, and neighbors who cannot be immunized due to valid medical reasons at risk of contracting a disease that they might not be able to fight off.
In a way, the measles vaccine is a victim of its own success. Very few doctors now have directly seen patients with the disease. Parents have not had to watch their children go blind, get brain damage, or die. With the current epidemic, that may soon change.
If your child has not been vaccinated, talk to your medical provider about the risk of measles and the benefits of getting the MMR vaccine. For more information visit cdc.gov/measles or contact the Washburn County Health Department at 715-635-4400