Tag: measles outbreaks

What’s the Evidence for Measles Parties?

We know that folks are still having chicken pox parties.

How do we know.

Are they using MeetUp to have chicken pox parties?
Are they using MeetUp to have chicken pox parties?

For one thing, the Governor of Kentucky recently came out as having said he took his kids to one…

What’s the Evidence for Measles Parties?

But measles parties?

That can’t still be a thing, can it?

Until recently, I would have said, “no way!”

I mean, realistically, in most years, there were so few cases that it would have made it hard to find someone to intentionally expose your kid to.

That’s changed recently though.

“In Facebook group discussions, local activists have asked about holding “measles parties” to expose unvaccinated children to others infected with the virus so they can contract the disease and acquire immunity.”

Despite measles outbreak, anti-vaccine activists in Minnesota refuse to back down

As outbreaks get bigger, especially since they are typically concentrated among clusters of unvaccinated children and adults in small communities, the possibility of measles parties become more possible.

They might even be likely when you have anti-vaccine folks encouraging folks to have them!

A case of measles was reported in Indianapolis on March 27…

What about evidence of measles parties in Brooklyn?

Hopefully the The Chanukah Measles Song is someone’s idea of a really sick joke…

The health department, in their press conference, does mention reports of measles parties. And that they think some people may be using the exposures so that their intentionally sick kids will later test positive when titer tests are done.

I hope they aren’t, but who knows…

Literally hoping for a life-threatening disease for your kids? Really?

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people claiming that they would like to intentionally expose their kids to measles. Hopefully they are just folks trying to get attention and wouldn’t really do that to their kids.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary. There is no good reason to intentionally expose your kids to a potentially life-threatening disease.

More on Measles Parties

Why Do We Include SSPE When Counting Measles Deaths?

Anti-vaccine folks often like to push the idea that parents shouldn’t worry about measles and that it is just a rash with a little fever.

They leave out the part that it is a week of having a high fever, irritability, and other symptoms too.

In addition to downplaying the symptoms of measles, they never talk about the possible complications, such as encephalitis, seizures, and death.

Why Do We Include SSPE When Counting Measles Deaths?

They certainly never talk about SSPE or subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.

“Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a progressive neurological disorder of children and young adults that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It is a slow, but persistent, viral infection caused by defective measles virus.”

Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis Information Page

SSPE is a late complication of having a natural measles infection.

That’s why it should be included when counting measles deaths.

“Available epidemiological data, in line with virus genotyping data, do not suggest that measles vaccine virus can cause SSPE. Furthermore, epidemiological data do not suggest that the administration of measles vaccine can accelerate the course of SSPE or trigger SSPE in an individual who would have developed the disease at a later time without immunization. Neither can the vaccine lead to the development of SSPE where it would not otherwise have occurred in a person who has already a benign persistent wild measles infection at the time of vaccination.”

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis and measles vaccination

It is not a complication of having a measles containing vaccine. If it were, then why didn’t we see more cases of SSPE as more and more people got vaccinated, instead of a drop in SSPE cases and deaths, corresponding to a drop in measles cases?

But SSPE isn’t gone yet, just like measles hasn’t yet been eradicated.

32 of these SSPE deaths have been since 2000. Source is the CDC Wonder database.
32 of these SSPE deaths have been since 2000. Source is the CDC Wonder database.

Since 2000, when the endemic spread of measles was eliminated in the United States, there have been at least 37 SSPE deaths.

“Investigators learned that, in 2012, at age 11 years, the boy, who was previously healthy and developmentally normal, had been admitted to a tertiary care children’s hospital in Oregon with severe, progressive encephalopathy. Before the onset of his neurologic illness, the patient had been a straight-A, fifth-grade student who played soccer and basketball. The symptoms began approximately 4 months before the hospital admission, when the patient began to struggle with homework, drop utensils, and doze off during meals, eventually progressing to falling asleep while walking.”

Notes from the Field: Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis Death — Oregon, 2015

I say at least, because the CDC Wonder database doesn’t list the 2015 SSPE death of a boy in Oregon.

Anti-vaccine folks like to ignore the fact that yes, people have died of measles recently. And measles puts you at risk for SSPE, which is always fatal.
Anti-vaccine folks like to ignore the fact that yes, people have died of measles recently. And measles puts you at risk for SSPE, which is always fatal.

We are fortunate that no one has died since 2015, but as we get more and more measles cases, tragically, in addition of the risk of someone dying of measles directly, it increases the risk that someone will eventually develop SSPE.

“Decreasing rates of vaccination in the United States, particularly among preschool-aged children (children <5 years of age) living in inner-city areas, resulted in a resurgence in the number of cases of measles reported during 1989–1991; during this period, 55,622 cases of measles and 123 measles-associated deaths were reported.”

Bellini et al on Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis: More Cases of This Fatal Disease Are Prevented by Measles Immunization than Was Previously Recognized

Remember, there were at least 12 extra SSPE deaths following the large measles outbreaks of the late 1980s.

Will we see any after the rise in the cases the last few years?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and obviously necessary.

Don’t risk a complication of measles. Don’t risk getting SSPE.

More on SSPE Deaths

Timeline of the Measles Outbreak in Brooklyn

Breaking News – there are 30 new cases in Brooklyn, as a judge upholds the order, and 3 parents face penalties (see below).

There have been several big outbreaks of measles in the United States this year, but until recently, the biggest hadn’t gotten much attention.

As the outbreak in Brooklyn kept getting bigger and bigger, most people focused on the outbreaks in Clark County, Washington and Rockland County, New York.

Timeline of the Measles Outbreak in Brooklyn

Of course, with the emergency order in Brooklyn, the focus is now shifting.

So what do we now about the Brooklyn measles outbreak?

  • the outbreak began in October 2018 and was started by a traveler returning from Israel, where there is a large outbreak
  • as of early April, there have been 285 cases (we rarely see that many cases in an entire year, even when combining all of the cases in the whole country!)
  • most cases are in the Orthodox Jewish community, even though this is not a religious issue, except that this community has been targeted by an antivaccine group
  • 246 cases have been in children
  • the youngest case was an infant who was only 4 weeks old!
  • 21 people have been hospitalized
  • 5 have been admitted to the ICU!

What else do we know?

Although the outbreak is in its 5th month, which is very long for a measles outbreak in the post-vaccine era, there have been 152 new cases in just the past month!

There were 133 measles cases in Brooklyn in early March.

So at a time when cases should have already stopped (most outbreaks only last a few months), or at least be decreasing, the Brooklyn outbreak has more than doubled in size!

There have been 285 cases of measles in the Brooklyn outbreak.

There is no sign of it stopping either, with news reports of more than 20 to 40 cases each week.

And that’s what brought on the April 9 declaration of an emergency order.

“IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that any person who lives, works or resides within the 11205, 11206, 11221 and/or 11237 zip codes and who has not received the MMR vaccine within forty eight (48) hours of this Order being signed by me shall be vaccinated against measles unless such person can demonstrate immunity to the disease or document to the satisfaction of the Department that he or she should be medically exempt from this requirement. “

ORDER OF THE COMMISSIONER to All persons who reside, work or attend school in the neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York and to the parents and/or guardians of any child who resides, works or attends school in the neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Does this mean that they will be forcing everyone in Williamsburg to get vaccinated? And arresting those that don’t?

“I want to do the common sense point. We are trying to get people vaccinated. Our goal is not to find anyone. Our goal is not to shut down schools. Our goal is to get people vaccinated.”

Mayor Bill De Blasio

It should be clear that they are just trying to end the outbreak.

“People in violation of the order will be identified through identification of exposures. Disease detectives will check for immunization status or immunity when tracing the contacts of a person who has developed the illness. “

Oxiris Barbot, M.D. Commissioner of Health

And no one will be forced to get a vaccine. You might be fined if you insist on not getting vaccinated and you have been exposed to someone with measles, but you still won’t be forced to get the vaccine.

Why did it come to this?

Couldn’t they just quarantine folks who are exposed?

Well, they have been trying that…

And it hasn’t been working.

Williamsburg press conference with NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, with Herminia Palacio, MD, NYC Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, and Oxiris Barbot, MD, NYC Commissioner of Health
Williamsburg press conference with NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, with Herminia Palacio, MD, NYC Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, and Oxiris Barbot, MD, NYC Commissioner of Health

In addition to schools continuing to let in unvaccinated students, the health department is concerned that people in the community might actually be having measles parties!

“So we have not used a public health emergency to mandate vaccine in recent history. The circumstance of the combination of a large anti-vax movement in combination with a large outbreak has not happened in the way that it has happened right now.”

Dr. Herminia Palacio, NYC Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services

As in Rockland, there is also an aggressive anti-vaccine campaign in Brooklyn that is pushing misinformation and is scaring parents away from vaccinating their kids.

30 new cases this week

If you are upset that this is happening in Brooklyn, the outbreaks and the response to the outbreaks, the anti-vaccine groups working in the community are to blame.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are very obviously necessary.

Get vaccinated. Stop the outbreaks.

Timeline of the Measles Outbreak in Brooklyn

Updated April 18, 2019

How Many Active Cases Are There in Rockland County?

Three new cases were just reported in the Rockland County measles outbreak, pushing the total count to 161 cases in an outbreak that has been going on since September of 2018.

These are record breaking numbers.

Misleading? Fear mongering? Isn't that ironic???
Misleading? Fear mongering? Isn’t that ironic???

So of course, it’s time to move the goalposts!

How Many Active Cases Are There in Rockland County?

The number of active cases in an outbreak is an important number.

It’s a sign that the outbreak is under poor control.

For example, there were 45 new cases of measles in Brooklyn this week, following reports of 33 new cases the previous week. In fact, in the past 21 days, the case count in Brooklyn went from 158 to 259, which likely means that there have been over 100 active measles cases in Brooklyn during that time.

What about Rockland County?

In the past three weeks, the case count in Rockland County has increased by 16.

Why is three weeks an important number?

Because that’s how long it takes to develop symptoms after they have been exposed to someone with measles.

The problem in Rockland County, as Ed Day said in his press conference, is that people hadn’t been cooperating with the health department. So it is hard to actually know how many active cases there are. Is it five cases, as someone at the health department recently told an anti-vaccine women impersonating a caller who was concerned about her infant?

If so, that’s five cases too many!

The most important thing to understand, is that as we continue to see new cases, there is no sign that the outbreaks are stopping.

And the only numbers that really matter are ZERO new cases for 42 days.

That’s when the outbreaks will be declared over.

Let’s hope that we get there before we are talking about a new number, someone dying with measles.

More on Active Cases in Rockland County


The CDC Vaccine Price List Conspiracy is Officially Dead

You remember the CDC Vaccine Price List Conspiracy, right?

The birth of a new anti-vaccine conspiracy theory!
The birth of a new anti-vaccine conspiracy theory!

After all, they just made it up last week..

Anyway, it was notable for not only being one of the sillier conspiracy theories anti-vaccine folks have come up with lately, but for spawning a secondary conspiracy theory that was even worse.

Apparently you can make up your own anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.
You can’t make this stuff up – apparently you can…

Yes, they thought that there “was so much hysteria around measles” because the vaccines were expiring.

The CDC Vaccine Price List Conspiracy is Officially Dead

Of course, MMR vaccine isn’t expiring…

This box of MMR was received in March 2019 and doesn’t expire until October 2020.

And those expiring contracts?

They were renewed! Just like they are every year.

So did everyone stop talking about measles and getting folks vaccinated?

Are all of the measles outbreaks over? Do they still have medical martial law in New York?

Did you buy into this conspiracy theory? Although it was obviously ridiculous, it only took a few minutes of real research to find proof of why it was so ridiculous.

More on the CDC Vaccine Price List Conspiracy


Bob Sears Doubles Down Against California Vaccine Laws

Bob Sears wasn’t a fan of SB 277, the vaccine law that removed non-medical exemptions in California.

Not surprisingly, he is actively rallying folks against a new bill that would close a loophole in that law. It seems that some doctors were writing medical exemptions for anything and everything, from eczema to swollen lymph nodes.

Bob Sears is pushing misinformation that SB 276 takes away all medical exemptions.
Bob Sears is pushing misinformation that SB 276 takes away all medical exemptions.

Of course, the new law wouldn’t take away medical exemptions. It would just take away fake medical exemptions.

Is everything a vaccine injury?
Is everything a vaccine injury?

Yes, take a long hard look at their list…

A very few actually are actually standard contraindications and precautions to commonly used vaccines, so could likely get you a medical exemption to one or more vaccines. GBS within 6 weeks of a flu shot, a precaution, not a contraindication, would be an example. But even in this case, the exemption would be for flu shots, not all vaccines.

“Events or conditions listed as precautions should be reviewed carefully. Benefits of and risks for administering a specific vaccine to a person under these circumstances should be considered. If the risk from the vaccine is believed to outweigh the benefit, the vaccine should not be administered. If the benefit of vaccination is believed to outweigh the risk, the vaccine should be administered. “

Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP

What about all of the rest of the diseases or “severe reactions” on Bob’s list, like pneumonia, palpitations, eczema, hair loss, IBD, difficulty swallowing, skin infections, testicular pain, HSP, Multiple Sclerosis, and Kawasaki disease, etc.

These are not vaccine injuries, even though they are sometimes in a package insert. I’m surprised that he didn’t list SIDS and autism too…

And this is why California needs to fix their vaccine law… Folks, including pediatricians, pushing the idea that everything is a vaccine injury.

More on Bob Sears and California Vaccine Laws

Why Does the BMJ Post Anti-Vaccine Propaganda?

Getting something posted in a medical journal is a big deal?

Getting something posted in The BMJ? Not so much…

Why Does the BMJ Post Anti-Vaccine Propaganda?

Oh, I’m sure it used to be, as they are one of the world’s oldest general medical journals, going back to 1840.

“Reader feedback online is actively encouraged in the form of Rapid Responses were introduced in 1998, and 20 years later, had generated 115,000 fully-moderated responses.”

History of The BMJ

The thing is, they allow just about anyone to post these Rapid Responses, without making it very clear that they aren’t in a peer reviewed section of the journal.

What’s wrong with this Rapid Response?

  1. The Federal government isn’t issuing any kind of quarantine in this matter, the county is, so why would it be an issue as to whether or not measles is subject to Federal isolation and quarantine law? Anyway, while there are few diseases on the list that are subject to Federal isolation and quarantine law (they do include cholera, diphtheria, plague, smallpox, Ebola, and pandemic flu, etc.) measles could be added by a Presidential Executive Order. Still, the authority to issue Federal Quarantines has rarely been used. Quarantines for measles is usually handled by states and local governments.
  2. Supposed to be protected anyway??? There are plenty of infants, children, and adults who simply can’t be directly protected by a vaccine. They are too young to be vaccinated, can’t be vaccinated because they have true medical contraindications, or could be among the very small minority for whom their vaccine wasn’t effective. They are at risk when your intentionally unvaccinated child gets measles.
  3. The vaccination rates for everyone in the Rockland outbreak is posted and is updated weekly. Only 3.8% of the folks in the outbreak are fully vaccinated.
  4. Since almost all of the folks in the outbreak are unvaccinated, that kind of busts John Stone’s last point – the Rockland measles outbreak has been caused by waning immunity and a failed vaccine. It is simply a failure of folks to vaccinate and protect their kids.

I get that The BMJ wants their “users to debate issues raised in articles published on bmj.com,” but they are simply contributing to the false balance we see in many other places if they want to allow folks to think there is a debate going on about the safety or necessity of vaccines.

More on Anti-Vaccine Propaganda in The BMJ