Monday, February 28, 2011

Measles in New Mexico!

This past Sunday, I read here that a case of measles has been diagnosed right here in New Mexico. Apparently, an unvaccinated woman flew here from Europe, passing through a couple of US airports and ended up in the hospital in Santa Fe.

First, the comedy. In reading some of the comments (I only read a couple of pages and there were several hundred pages when I looked), I notice that several commenters seem unaware that New Mexico is, in fact, one of the 50 states of the United States of America. A couple of them were angry that some dirty illegal Mexican immigrant is responsible for bringing the measles into the US. Good grief! This brings to mind the story my FIL tells of traveling from Albuquerque to visit family in Wisconsin. He was driving his personal vehicle with New Mexico plates and was stopped by the Wisconsin Highway Patrol for some infraction. The officer accused him of having a forged driver's license and insisted on seeing his passport and visa until he finally believed my FIL that he really, truly is American after speaking to someone else at his base. I won't even get into the bigotry of the "dirty illegal Mexican immigrant" issue right now.

Second, I was surprised to see how many commenters on the two pages I read were horrified that anyone in the US was unvaccinated. Where have those people been hiding? I'm looking at that like it's a good thing, though, since if they are horrified about not being vaccinated, they obviously haven't been influenced by the anti-vaccination movement. I haven't returned to the article or its comments since Monday, but I'm hoping that the anti-vax misinformation mongers haven't derailed the comments into a dangerous pit of lies. I'm not going to return to the article or its comments, because I suspect that it probably has.

Third, the reason this unvaccinated woman is a danger to everyone is that many misinformed people here in the US have chosen not to vaccinate their children. These children are in danger of blindness, sterility, or even death, if they contract measles. In addition, some children and adults cannot be vaccinated due to various health issues, such as immune system disorders. Plus, since vaccinations are not effective 100% of the time, some individuals who are vaccinated still do not have full immunity. These individuals are in danger as well, and they depend on the rest of us to be vaccinated in order to avoid life-threatening diseases such as measles.

Since vaccination numbers among children especially are not as high as they should be, mostly due to misinformation and outright lies from the anti-vax movement, this single traveler could have infected dozens of individuals prior to being diagnosed. Those dozens can be infecting further dozens right now. Let's hope not.

Bottom line: Vaccinate your children and yourself! That is all.

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