instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Genetic Linkage

Measles and an Outbreak of Science Illiteracy

On January 22, the World Health Organization declared anti-vaxxers a "Top Threat to Global Health in 2019." The agency specified "vaccine hesitancy" as the "reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability." It's the first time that vaccines have made the agency's list of the top ten biggest threats to global health.

 

Might it be time for President Trump to stop tweeting about the long-defunct link between vaccines and autism?

 

An Almost-Vanquished Childhood Disease

 

I had the measles when I was four, with its characteristic fever and spots, for an entire month. My sister got a vaccine. She shrieked at the two shots, but she became a teacher so I think in retrospect she'd agree it was worth it.

 

Before the measles vaccine became available in 1963, epidemics in the US cycled every 2 or 3 years, with 3 to 4 million cases a year, and on average 450 deaths. Before that time, half or more of an elementary school classroom could be vacant as the highly contagious disease swept through. Nearly everyone had had measles by age 15.

 

Measles was eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. But now it's back. This week the CDC reports outbreaks in 10 states, with 101 cases already for 2019. And it's only February.

 

To continue reading go to DNA Science, my weekly blog at Public Library of Science, where this post first appeared.

Be the first to comment