Friday, May 9, 2014

Measles outbreak linked to lack of vaccinations

Both Sagan and Asimov made similar comments on society.

Sagan called it a "celebration of ignorance." Asimov described it as more of a general attitude, one that says "my ignorance is just as good as your facts."

Unfortunately you can see said ignorance play out in many ways on any given day.  Last month, it was in Canada.  I'm not besmirching Canada.  Really I'm not.  As you're about to see, "stupid" can cross all kinds of international borders.

Edmonton and Calgary, the two largest cities in the province of Alberta, declared that they have a measles outbreak.  And why should such a relatively arcane pathogen be rearing its ugly head in this day and age?  What else but a dangerous number of people without vaccinations.

This outbreak apparently had its genesis in The Netherlands last year where cases reached epidemic levels.  Again, low levels of vaccination were to blame as there were communities opting out for religious reasons.  This spread to Alberta and measles cases have even been reported in other provinces as well as U.S. states such as Washington and Ohio.

Vaccinations do not cause autism.  They are not some kind of "tracking device" utilized by "the man." They exist to protect people from diseases that no one need suffer from anymore.  There needs to be a sufficient number of people vaccinated in a society in order to create herd immunity (look it up.)  If your anti-vaccination choice is based in religious beliefs, as was the case here it seems, then I'm not sure what to say to you.  You're entitled to your beliefs and I really don't want to infringe upon them, but there is the greater health and well-being of all to consider as well.  After it all, it is the young and the elderly who will be most susceptible to outbreaks. Hell, given the drive-thru, fast food lives of most people in our society, I wouldn't be surprised if our overall immunity levels were well on the low side.

Makes me wonder what would happen if a truly virulent epidemic ever did sweep through the nation. After all, it's been conjectured that we are at the dawn of the age of new epidemics such as MERS.  Plus, there is a bizarre new kidney disease that has been infecting sugar cane cutters of the Pacific coast of Central America.  What if one of these or another unthought of and altogether nastier bug gets to the U.S.?   Let's say that, mercifully, a vaccine were developed to stem its awful tide.  Would people take it?  Even in the face of horrible illness?

Or has the paranoia of quack doctors and semi-celebrities become the "facts" of the day?

Then again, devastating plagues can actually make the surviving populace stronger.

I'm not trying to wax George Dvorsky's car by linking to all of his articles.  Honest.  It's just that he happens to write extensively about the same subjects I cover.

And he does it well.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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