Tag: Brady Bunch

More Measles Myths

It’s kind of sad that some folks still believe many of the measles myths that were being told in 1963.

Folks once accepted measles as inevitable because they had no choice, but that changed when we got a vaccine.
Measles was long known as a harmless killer

Wait, measles isn’t harmless?

But what about that Brady Bunch episode!?!

More Measles Myths

What other myths about measles have you heard?

Have you heard that folks never worried about measles before we had a vaccine? That it never even made the newspaper?

There were newspaper articles warning about measles in 1959 - a measles year.

The other myths they push are just as easily disproven

Which of these myths do you believe?

Which ones are keeping you from vaccinating and protecting your kids?

More on Measles Myths

Remembering Measles

I don’t remember treating any kids with measles in medical school or residency.

We certainly saw a lot of other now vaccine-preventable diseases when I was in training, from rotavirus and pneumococcal disease to meningococcal disease.

“When I graduated from medical school, many of the current vaccines were either not yet invented or just beginning to be widely used. I still remember what health care was like in the pre-vaccine era, and I remember that there seemed to be at least one child in each neighborhood who spent much of her life in an iron lung because of polio. As a young resident in pediatrics, I heard, on the whooping-cough ward, the coughing and choking of children with pneumonia. I remember the brain damage from encephalitis caused by measles, and the birth defects of babies whose mothers had had German measles during pregnancy. In my first years in pediatric practice, I remember making hospital rounds every morning and treating children with meningitis, and complications of chicken pox and other illnesses that have been either eliminated or lessened in severity by the widespread use of vaccines. Also, I remember more than a decade ago when Great Britain temporarily stopped the routine use of the DTP vaccine because of a reaction scare (which later turned out to be a false alarm) and consequently suffered a resurgence of whooping cough. Because of my “historical” perspective, I have grown to appreciate the value of vaccines as a necessary public-health measure. Currently in our pediatric practice, we follow the vaccine schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Dr. William Sears on Ask Dr. Sears: Vaccination/Immunization Concerns

But I trained in the post-elimination era for measles.

Remembering Measles

Although some folks only seem to have the Brady Bunch to use as a guide, fortunately there are many other ways to discover what measles used to be like.

I asked some of my old instructors…

“Typical case of measles – a couple days of high fever, with a sick (miserable) looking kid with running nose, bad cough, and red eyes. You can see Koplik’s spots if you know to look for them on the buccal mucosa (I describe them as grains of salts on red tablecloth). Fever gets higher and rash appears at peak of fever (day 3-4). The rash disappears with a brawny hyperpigmented appearance. The child frequently gets diagnosed with an ear infection. If no complications (ear infection or pneumonia), recovery is quick once the fever resolves, but these kids look really sick, miserable, and sad during the acute phase. They have a measly look.”

Jeed Gan, MD

After reading that account, I’m glad my kids are all vaccinated and protected and hopefully won’t ever get measles, as it sounds horrible.

Although I have never seen it, I can certainly imagine that measly look…

A child with measles and four days of the classic measles rash.
A child with measles and four days of the classic measles rash. Photo by CDC/NIP/ Barbara Rice

What else can you imagine?

“I’ve often called measles ‘the harmless killer’ because, although most youngsters recover uneventfully, the disease a certain amount of really serious damage.”

Dr. Joseph Molner

Can you imagine intentionally leaving your kids unvaccinated and at risk of a harmless killer disease?

In this 1959 article in the Madera Tribune, Dr. Bundesen warns parents to take measles seriously.
In this 1959 article in the Madera Tribune, Dr. Bundesen warns parents to take measles seriously.

It is important to note that even a “mild” attack included a fever that could hit 104F or higher and, altogether the symptoms could last up to 12 days, as the cough often lingers after the rash has cleared up.

Measles is definitely contagious.
Measles is definitely contagious.

And in the pre-vaccine era, everyone ended up having measles, as it was so contagious.

Not everyone survived having measles though.

Even after improved sanitation and hygiene dropped mortality rates for measles and other diseases in the early part of the 20th Century, a lot of kids still died with measles.
Even after improved sanitation and hygiene dropped mortality rates for measles and other diseases in the early part of the 20th Century, a lot of kids still died with measles.

It was once well known that measles was not always so easy on kids.

1953 medical advice column
1953 medical advice column

Why have so many folks forgotten that fact?

Do you think that a 106F fever comes with a mild disease?
Do you think that a 106F fever comes with a mild disease?

Is it because vaccines work so well that we don’t see or hear about measles that much anymore?

Kids with measles feel awful.

At least we don’t hear about them until immunization rates drop and we start having more and more outbreaks.

Is that what it’s going to take to get you to vaccinate your kids? An outbreak in your city? Your child’s school? Or are you going to wait until your kids get sick?

More on Remembering Measles

Why Are Anti-Vaccine Folks Panicking over the Measles Outbreaks?

Do you sense something in the air?

No, it’s not measles.

Ever notice that it is folks who don't vaccinate who use words like epidemic and panic whenever we have large measles outbreaks?
Ever notice that it is folks who don’t vaccinate who use words like epidemic and panic whenever we have large measles outbreaks?

It is talk of panic about measles.

Why Are Anti-Vaccine Folks Panicking over the Measles Outbreaks?

I’m not panicking.

I am definitively concerned about these outbreaks, because I understand that they put a lot of folks at unnecessary risk for getting a life-threatening disease. And I understand that these outbreaks are getting harder and harder to control, but ultimately, since more and more people get vaccinated during an outbreak, they will eventually end.

So why are anti-vaccine folks panicking?

Yes, your immune system gets to a whole new level after a natural measles infection - it resets.
Yes, your immune system gets to a whole new level after a natural measles infection – it resets.

It’s easier to be anti-vaccine and leave your kids unvaccinated and unprotected when you don’t think that you are taking much of a risk.

You likely still know it’s wrong, so cognitive dissonance pushes you to believe that vaccines don’t work, vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that bad, vaccines are full of poison, or that you can just hide in the herd.

It gets much harder during an outbreak, when you realize that it is almost all intentionally unvaccinated kids getting sick. And typically an intentionally unvaccinated child or adult who starts the outbreak.

Why wait until an outbreak starts to get your kids vaccinated and protected or to start recommending that your patients be vaccinated and protected?
Why wait until an outbreak starts to get your kids vaccinated and protected or to start recommending that your patients be vaccinated and protected?

Is my child going to start an outbreak?

If measles is so mild, why do so many of these folks go to the ER multiple times and why do some of them get hospitalized. Why do people still die with measles?

Full Stop! Someone did die during the 2015 measles outbreaks in Washington.
Full Stop! Someone did die during the 2015 measles outbreaks in Washington.

That’s when the panic starts to set in.

Are you really doing what’s right for your child?

Who are these people I’m getting advice from and what’s their motivation?

The only "mass hysteria" is in anti-vaccine Facebook groups. Is Larry Cook using it to raise money for himself?
The only “mass hysteria” is in anti-vaccine Facebook groups. Is Larry Cook using it to raise money for himself?

Am I really supposed to skip my kid’s MMR because they did a Brady Bunch episode about all of the Brady kids getting measles?

Will I regret not vaccinating my child?

Why don’t any of the people in my Facebook groups who talk about how marvelous measles used to be in the old days talk about how they called it a “harmless killer?”

Of course, there is an easy way to stop worrying and panicking about measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases – get your kids vaccinated and protected. Vaccines are safe and necessary.

More on Measles Panic

What Are Anti-Vaccine Folks Saying About the Measles Outbreaks?

If your kids are intentionally not vaccinated and you live in an area where there is a big measles outbreak, then you are hopefully saying, “where can I get an MMR for my child.”

There were 23 measles cases in Orange County in 2014 and an additional 35 cases in 2015.

And you hope that your “vaccine friendly” pediatrician has vaccines and will actually vaccinate your kids…

What Are Anti-Vaccine Folks Saying About the Measles Outbreaks?

And while many parents change their minds and ending up vaccinating their kids when faced with an outbreak, you likely won’t be surprised about what some folks think or say during an outbreak of measles.

Actually, the CDC said that there was no ongoing, single, multi-state outbreak of measles. Instead, there were lots and lots of little outbreaks.

Yes, these are the things anti-vaccine folks say to try and reassure themselves that they made a good decision to intentionally leave their kids unvaccinated and at risk for a life-threatening disease. One that their kids are even more at risk of getting, because there is an outbreak in their community.

Of course, most folks in measles outbreaks are unvaccinated. It isn’t spread by those who are vaccinated.
And these outbreaks are never caused by shedding or a vaccine strain of measles.
Reporting about outbreaks to help get them under control is not media hysteria. And yes, measles made the headlines in the pre-vaccine era.
That’s because measles didn’t kill everyone who got sick. But there were about 500 measles deaths each year in the United States in the pre-vaccine era. Those folks all had stories, whether or not you ever heard them.
Vitamin A as a treatment for measles is typically helpful if you have a vitamin deficiency. It is probably not going to be very helpful in a developed country.
And yet measles was referred to as a harmless killer, because while many kids didn’t recover, others died or had complications, like encephalitis.
Measles is not a deadly disease if you don’t ever get it. And are you really not going to vaccinate your kids because the Brady Bunch had an episode about the measles?
This copypasta links to a post that left out the part of the article that told folks to get vaccinated…
God I hope that measles parties aren’t going to become a thing.
What scares folks about measles? Anti-vaccine misinformation about vaccines.

While you’re researching measles, do a little research about vaccines too.

Yes, a woman who got caught up in the 2015 measles outbreaks in Washington died.
Yes, a woman who got caught up in the 2015 measles outbreaks in Washington died.

Your kids will feel better if they are vaccinated and protected and don’t have measles.

More on What Anti-Vaccine Folks Are Saying About the Measles Outbreaks

Fun and Games with Measles?

Remember when everyone would get measles and it would be so much fun?

Yeah, I don’t either. Mostly because I grew up in the post-elimination era for measles.

Fun and Games with Measles?

But neither does anyone else who really experienced measles.

Do you typically want to play board games when you have a high fever?

Remember, kids with measles typically have a temperature above 104o F for 4 to 7 days. They also have conjunctivitis, cough, decreased appetite, and are irritable.

The very first measles vaccine was available in 1963 when this article was published.

It should be clear that the article is only talking about the convalescent stage of measles, when you are starting to feel better and your fever has broken.

Anti-vaccine folks, whether they push articles like this, or talk about the Brady Bunch episode, dolls with measles, or children’s books about measles, also don’t mention that during a “measles year,” like they had in Minneapolis in 1963, a lot of people died.

Measles was described as a harmless killer.
Being sick with a “harmless killer” doesn’t sound like much fun.

Were our grandparents afraid of measles, which was described at the time as a “harmless killer?”

You bet they were!

Did they try to distract us with board games until you could make it out of the house and back to school? Why wouldn’t they?

Eleanor Abbot designed Candy Land for kids recovering from paralytic polio in 1948. That doesn’t mean that having paralytic polio was all fun and games, does it?

You know what else isn’t harmless? Folks who push this kind of anti-vaccine propaganda. Don’t let them scare you into keeping your kids unvaccinated and unprotected. Vaccines are safe and necessary.

More on Fun and Games with Measles

Have Normal Childhood Diseases Become More Deadly?

Weren’t measles and chicken pox once a rite of passage for kids?

Yes, in the pre-vaccine era, almost all kids got measles, chicken pox, and other now vaccine-preventable diseases in early childhood.

It was considered a rite of passage.

That she doesn't understand survivorship bias doesn't mean that you shouldn't vaccinate your kids.
That she doesn’t understand survivorship bias doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t vaccinate your kids.

But these diseases were never benign.

They were considered a rite of passage only because we all had to endure them. They weren’t something anyone looked forward to.

Benign diseases don't kill kids.
Benign diseases don’t kill kids.

After all, you don’t typically die from a benign disease.

Have Normal Childhood Diseases Become More Deadly?

But what about the idea that folks never used to worry about these diseases, at least not until vaccines were developed? Or that we only fear diseases that are vaccine-preventable?

It’s easy to say that no one worried about measles in the pre-vaccine era when you are just trying to scare folks away from getting vaccinated.

That’s one of the more ridiculous arguments anti-vaccine folks make.

A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, as this front page NYTimes article reports.
A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951 and made headlines in the New York Times. That’s not surprising, as there were 683 measles deaths in the United States that year.

And also one of the easiest to refute.

When was the last time that you saw a headline warning about congenital rubella syndrome?
When was the last time that you saw a headline warning about congenital rubella syndrome?

These diseases that are now vaccine-preventable routinely made headlines in the pre-vaccine era.

Even the schools were closed in San Antonio when polio came to Texas in 1946.
Even the schools were closed in San Antonio when polio came to Texas in 1946.

And it was surviving these diseases that was considered a rite of passage, at least for those who were fortunate enough to survive.

So no, childhood diseases have not become deadlier.

They have always been serious and life-threatening!

Of course, not everyone died who got them, but they were rarely a walk in the park. Remember, even a mild case of measles includes a high fever for 4 to 7 days. That’s why folks often end up seeking medical attention multiple times, even if they don’t end up having any complications and don’t need to get admitted to the hospital

Lassie got shot, but ended up saving the day, getting help for Timmy, after they ran out of gas taking a short cut rushing home.
The Lassie episode about measles, in 1958, was called ‘The Crisis.” There were 552 measles deaths in the United States that year.

But what about the Brady Bunch measles episode, Is There a Doctor in the House? Is that really why you think vaccine-preventable diseases are mild?

In 1969, when that episode first aired, there were 25,826 reported cases and 41 deaths from measles in the United States.

Why don’t we see that many deaths now?

That’s easy.

We don’t see as much measles now. Most folks are vaccinated and protected.

If more people skip or delay their vaccines though, we will see more and more outbreaks, with greater chances that people will die.

Believe it or not, we still don’t have cures for measles, chicken pox, congenital rubella syndrome, and hepatitis B, etc. So while these diseases haven’t become any more deadly, they haven’t become any less deadly either, even with all of the advances of modern medicine.

More on Childhood Diseases as a Rite of Passage

How Many People Get Measles Each Year?

It used to be that measles was very common and almost everyone got measles.

A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, as this front page NYTimes article reports.
A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, as this front page NYTimes article reports.

While it was a so-called rite of passage and a part of growing up, it wasn’t something you looked forward to, as some kids didn’t survive having measles.

How Many People Get Measles Each Year?

Fortunately, measles case counts have dropped in the post-vaccine era.

How much did they drop?

Let’s see..

Year Cases
1920 469,924
1941 894,134
over 400 measles deaths each year
1962 503,282
1969 25,826
1970 47,351
1978 26,871
1979 13,597
1983 1,497
1986 6,282
1989 18,193
1990 27,786
1991 9,643
1992 2,200
1993 312
last record high number of measles cases
1994 963
1995 281
1996 508
1997 138
1998 100
1999 100
2000 86
2001 116
2002 44
2003 55
record low number of measles cases
2004 37
2005 66
2006 55
2007 43
2008 140
2009 71
2010 61
2011 220
2012 55
2013 187
worst year for measles since 1994, with the largest single outbreak (377 cases in Ohio) since the endemic spread of measles was eliminated
2014 667
2015 188
2016 86
2017 120
2018 372
2019 >200

Can you guess when the first measles vaccines were introduced?

Can you guess when we started to give kids a second dose of the MMR vaccine?

Can you guess when Wakefield became popular and Dr. Bob’s vaccine book was released?

Do you know how much it costs to contain these outbreaks?

Do you understand the consequences of a natural measles infection?

Can you explain why we will almost certainly have the second highest number of measles cases in one year since 1994, even though we see the devastation that high rates of measles is causing in Europe and other parts of the world?

How many people will get measles in the United States this year?

A lot has changed since we got reassurance from the CDC that we were seeing an expected range of measles cases, although there were plenty of warning signs then that this was going to be one for the record books.
A lot has changed since we got reassurance from the CDC that we were seeing an expected range of measles cases, although there were plenty of warning signs then that this was going to be one for the record books.

Although no one is reporting on this, with several large ongoing outbreaks still not under control – it will be another record year for measles in the United States.

The Rockland County measles outbreak already exceeds the total yearly case count for 11 of the past 19 years!
The Rockland County measles outbreak already exceeds the total yearly case count for 11 of the past 19 years!

And with several large outbreaks continuing overseas, next year doesn’t look like it will be much better, especially with reports of a measles resurgence in many regions of the world.

More on Measles and Measles Cases

Updated on March 6, 2019