Readers of Real Answers with Dr. Lavin will know that we have posted two recent essays on the re-appearance of measles, one talking about what is measles and that it is deadly, and the other about the epidemic in Europe.
Sadly, recent developments compel us to report the epidemic of measles in only getting worse. Large numbers of measles infections have appeared now around the world, from the Philippines, to Europe, to America.
In many, many ways, it is the most peculiar of epidemics. Most epidemics are events that occur well outside of our choice.
The emergence of SARS, a terribly deadly respiratory virus in China occurred without warning, killed many people, until heroic measures to limit its spread thankfully worked, SARS is now gone. A point of curiosity, because it was so new and limited in spread, quarantine actually worked and rid the world of SARS, I believe a very rare case of quarantine effectively ending an epidemic, with Ebola as a second rare example.
The polio epidemics of history, the last great one occurring in the 1950’s had nothing to do with anything people did, and everything to do with how viruses work. It too raged until humans took action to stop its spread.
Influenza virus epidemics rage around the world every year, not because humanity has chosen to have them rage, but because the virus can spread and we do not yet have the approaches that will end it.
Smallpox once killed one in 100 people around the world, every year, for eons! Again, the millenia of smallpox epidemics had nothing to do with humanity taking any particular action, it was the virus that caused this harm, and once again we do not worry about smallpox virus epidemics only because we, as humanity, devised actions to stop its spread.
The Current Measles Epidemics Around the World Are From Our Choices
And so, the current happenings, that we are seeing country after country erupt in epidemics of measles infections stands out in world history as a unique phenomenon.
To the best of my knowledge, never before has humanity developed the ability to rid itself of a disease entirely, and chosen to let the disease return, rage, and kill.
But that is precisely what we are now seeing happen, here in America, and in many countries around the world.
How can we reach this conclusion?
The reasoning is actually quite simple, and quite straightforward:
- The measles vaccine works.
- In countries where over a certain percentage of the population is immunized against measles, there are no measles infections.
- In countries where enough people have chosen not to use the measles immunization, measles returns.
Therefore, in any country that we see a re-emergence of a nearly vanquished foe, we can be very certain that the measles infections, and the deaths caused by these infections, is caused solely by the decision to not allow measles immunization to occur in those countries, or areas of those countries.
Only by the choice to not immunize against measles can the infection re-appear.
The Current State of Measles Epidemics Around the World
Around Valentine’s Day, Japan reported a major burst of measles infection and right in line with our sense that measles can only occur by invitation, the outbreaks a community that has embraced not vaccinating. The religious community holds alternative healing in the highest regard, and sadly sees immunization as contrary to healing. As a result their children are getting measles now.
A large outbreak of measles is taking place, right now, in the Philippines. Over 8000 people have come down with the disease leading to 136 deaths, mostly in kids, mostly little kids ages 1-4 years old. The point that measles can only appear by invitation is demonstrated here too. The country was embroiled in a controversy over use of a vaccine for dengue fever, with some holding the brand used cause harm. This led to a nationwide frenzy over the safety of immunizations all together, and use of measles vaccine plummeted, directly leading to the death of 136 young children, all because of needless fear.
We have already talked about the raging fire of measles now in Europe, again solely due to parents’ decisions to not protect their children from this virus.
The European measles epidemics are the largest in the world with 41,000 people reported infected, just through part of 2018, and 37 people dead up to that point in time.
Measles was once nearly eliminated from our country, with the CDC stating it was eliminated in 2000, now it is back, again only by our invitation.
Epidemics are catching across the states as geographically diverse as New York and Washington.
In New York the outbreaks are often traceable to people coming from countries where measles remains somewhat more common and then returning to communities in New York with lower than usual use of the measles immunization.
The outbreak in the state of Washington, raging right now, is centered mainly in communities where it is popular to not immunize your child.
A Pretty Clear Choice to Make
When it comes to measles, the choice is very clear.
Immunize your child and you protect your child and help make measles disappear all together.
Don’t immunize your child and you put your child at risk for getting measles, a disease that kills about 1 in 1000 children who get the infection and causes a terrible, damaging and permanent inflammation of the brain in a small number of those who experience measles.
This choice is now in full view.
In every nation and every local community that has chosen to protect their children from measles infection, there are no measles infections, no measles epidemics, no children actually dying of measles.
When a nation or local community decides not to protect their children from measles, their children can start being infected and most, most tragically, some, not a small number, die for no reason but for that decision.
The Scale of the Risk
Prior to the 1980’s, when mass global measles immunizations really took place, about 2.6 million people died of measles, every year!
Now, because of measles immunization, and only because of measles immunization, that number is 10,000 deaths a year from measles.
We could, if we wanted, make that number zero, as we did for smallpox, and are so close to doing for polio.
It’s Time to See Reality of the Risk, To Make Smart Choices, To Protect our Children
As I have often stated, we are very sympathetic to the worries that come with being a parent of a child, much responsibility rests on the shoulders of those of us who have had children and care for them. We are happy to work with families who have become worried that immunizations may be harmful.
The raging fires of measles force us all, at this moment in history, for the sake of our children, to be clear. The movements that whip up fear of immunizations are endangering the lives of children when it comes to measles, right now. Just look at the number of children who have died in Japan, the Philippines, across Europe, across America.
Will there come a time when all parents can put aside the questions on measles immunizations and protect their children now, before the epidemic comes here to Cleveland?
In the state of Washington, around Portland, where the measles epidemics are raging right now, the counties report a record surge in parents seeking measles immunizations for their children. Many are in families where a decision was made based on the popular trend to fear immunizations not to protect their children against measles. What is being reported on the front lines of this very real measles epidemic is that it is this part of their community that is most vociferous about getting their children vaccinated for measles.
It is one thing to have a theoretical debate about whether drug companies are participating in some sort of profit-driven conspiracy to get people to immunize when doing so isn’t really necessary, or to participate in the wildly popular discussions on such concerns, when no epidemics are actually coming to our communities, and actual children are dying from them. So compelling that when the reality of measles appeared in Portland, these conspiracy discussions dried up and parents rushed to get their children protected. I applaud this decision.
- Measles is deadly. It kills about 1 in 1000 children who get it, even in this era of modern medicine.
- Measles only infects people by choice. We have the means to end the infection, entirely, across the globe.
- Sadly, waves of immunization fear have led to large numbers of people choosing not to immunize their children for measles, and as a direct result of those decisions, measles is roaring across Japan, the Philippines, Europe, and now America, leading to very real numbers of children dying for no very good reason at all.
- Measles is back. It will be raging in Cleveland unless we all agree to have all our children immunized for measles, unless they have a medical condition making use of the vaccine dangerous.
As noted, we at Advanced Pediatrics remain happy to discuss any and all concerns families have about immunizations. At this time, we are alerting the community that the time has come to put aside worries and fears about the measles shot and have your child protected, it is simply too horrible to think about these epidemics coming here and hurting people we know and care for.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin