Facts, not Fantasy

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Wired: What Vaccine Refusal Really Costs: Measles in Arizona

Remember how I said that one canard the anti-vax pro-disease nutters pull out is that diseases like measles only affects third world countries?  Well, it could almost be argued that Arizona is attempting to be a third world country, along with the rest of the US healthcare system, but it isn't quite there yet.  So it is so sad to see these sort of things happening.  Furthermore, the comments section is run over by the ill informed and plain deluded proclaiming that vaccines are dangerous...  Looks like the fight must go on.  Remember:
  • Being born is a terminal condition.
  • No one who is responsible or in reality is suggestion that a vaccine is 100% safe.  Nothing in life is.  However, a vaccine is demonstrably and measurably better than getting the disease it prevents.
  • People have forgotten what it was like to live under the fear of Polio and smallpox.  I for one do not want that fear brought back, yet the actions of anti-vax pro-disease nutters seems to be enabling that.
Anyway, here is an article from Wired, so you know it has a lot of exposure, and the comments section will make your head hurt.  Feel free to join in on the fight (and it IS a fight for public welfare and health).

What Vaccine Refusal Really Costs: Measles in Arizona

Every once in a while, there’s news of a measles outbreak. On the surface, they don’t involve large numbers of cases — there’s one in Minneapolis right now that has racked up 21 cases so far — and so people seem to wonder why these outbreaks are such a big deal.

Here’s one reason why: Measles transmission within the US stopped in 2000 because of vaccination. Outbreaks here start with an importation from somewhere else where the disease still flourishes — but they gain a foothold because lack of vaccination, primarily from vaccine refusal, lets the disease get past what should be an impregnable barrier of herd immunity to attack those who are too young to be vaccinated or whose immunity has faded.

Here’s another reason: Stopping the measles virus before it can cause serious disease — and by “serious,” I mean deafness, pneumonia, encephalitis and miscarriage — is incredibly costly and labor-intensive. An account published overnight in the Journal of Infectious Diseases gives a glimpse at just how costly. To stop a 14-person outbreak that began with one unvaccinated tourist visiting a US emergency room, the Arizona Department of Health had to track down and interview 8,321 people; seven Tucson hospitals had to furlough staff members for a combined 15,120 work-hours; and two hospitals where patients were admitted spent $799,136 to contain the disease.

Here’s how the outbreak unfolded:

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