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Health

And So It Begins: U.S. Sees Big Measles Spike in Unvaccinated Kids

Reality BaseBy Melissa LafskyAugust 22, 2008 9:14 PM

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We're not one to say "I told you so" (oh, who are we kidding) but reports are in from the CDC that the number of measles cases in the U.S. has risen to its highest level in more than a decade, with nearly half of the reported cases involving children whose parents chose not to have them vaccinated for the disease. Granted, the number of cases is low, 131 total, but that's only from January through July of 2008—and that increase is significant, considering that 2007 saw a grand total of 42 cases. Thus far, none of the newly infected have died, though 15 were hospitalized. To make matters worse, the AP reports, at least 17 children contracted whooping cough (which can be fatal to children) at a private school in the San Francisco Bay area, and 13 of them weren't vaccinated against the disease. Vaccination rates in 2006 were still at 92 percent, but this year's uptick indicates that the Herculean (albeit totally misguided) efforts of the celebrity set and their anti-vax followers may be working, and children are getting sick as a result. According to the CDC report, in 63 of the new measles cases—almost all of them minors—the child or their parents had refused to be vaccinated for "philosophical or religious reasons." Luckily, reason and logic won't go down without a fight: the Academy of Pediatrics has made educating parents about the safety and necessity of vaccines a top priority this year, and doctors are taking action, distributing detailed pamphlets and documents explaining why physicians don't believe the shots cause autism. Still, with the glut of misinformation and sketchy "evidence" flying around, doctors may have a long, preventable-disease-addled road ahead of them.

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