As confirmed cases of measles spread across the United States, unvaccinated Florida residents are becoming more at-risk to catch this potentially deadly disease. As of this morning, there have been reports of infection in Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, New York, and Washington State. Officials are currently looking into reports that Florida may be a source of infection.
The Florida measles outbreak could possibly be traced to a Bible study class at a Vancouver church when a participating third-grader in the class came down with the disease over Christmas break, bringing the disease to Clark County.
Florida's Department of Health reports 15 cases of measles in 2018, four of which were reported in December.
The outbreak has become a nation-wide threat, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has even updated their page to warn and educate people about the once eradicated disease (in the US). Their website states:
"Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the body. Measles is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing. Make sure you and your child are protected with measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine."
It further states that the measles outbreak is related to unvaccinated travelers from Israel and Ukraine.
While most people who catch measles will be able to recover, in rare circumstances, complications may occur. Possible consequences of measles virus infection include bronchitis, sensorineural hearing loss, and—in about 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 300,000 cases—panencephalitis, which is usually fatal.
The MMR vaccinations were once widely mandatory for all children but since the recent anti-vax movement the shots became optional. The shot protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).
However, the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is not the only shot people are declining. Since the anti-vax movement has become so widely accepted and popular, many people are opting for a completely no-vaccine lifestyle; leaving those who don't get vaccinated at risk for much more fatal diseases such as tetanus, polio, and even tuberculosis (TB).
In fact, according to TB Alliance, TB is still the leading infectious cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.8 billion people—one third of the world's population—are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), the bacteria that causes TB. Last year, 10 million fell ill from TB and 1.6 million died.
The anti-vax movement comes in light of individual reports that vaccines had caused bodily harm, most notably that of autism and autoimmune diseases in young children.
While the correlation of vaccines and autism/autoimmune diseases have been a subject of speculation for many years, there is no evidence to support the claims according to many health reports - including those done by the CDC.
That's not to say that a person receiving a vaccine has never had a bad reaction - quite the contrary. Allergic and other minor reactions at around the injection site have been reported with all vaccines, but the effects are temporary and recovery generally happens without intervention.
Health officials warn against this lifestyle because of the possibly deadly outcomes but because it is a personal/parental choice there are not much health officials can do to enforce it.
To read more about the measles outbreak or to view more information about vaccines according to the CDC, click here.