Measles is a true blast-from-the-past disease which most of us at one time had or were vaccinated for. In the mid 1950s to mid 1960s, the US saw about 4 million cases per year. Following the introduction of a measles vaccine in the early 1960s, the rate dropped to near zero.
No longer only of historical interest, measles is back. 2018 was a big year with 349 confirmed cases. 2014 was worse with 667 cases and 2019 is set to shatter records with 555 cases to date as of mid-April.
A thousand students at Los Angeles colleges are currently quarantined due to possible measles exposure, unable to participate in the latest social justice protests so popular among California college students.
After a cluster of cases in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the measles outbreak is being attributed to Orthodox Jews refusing vaccinations for their children. While that might be part of the answer, there are also outbreaks in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, neither city home to a large number of Orthodox Jews.
Is religious extremism causing the rise in US measles cases? Or are there more simple explanations? Let’s start with the first question.
Most religions don’t oppose vaccination, according to Vox, with only two religions possibly viewing vaccinations negatively – Christian Scientists and the Dutch Reformed Church. Islam may have concern since some vaccines contain pork-related products.
Jewish law does not forbid vaccinations, even when the vaccine contains gelatin, a pork-derived ingredient. The Catholic Church supports vaccinations to protect the life and health of children.
Therefore, religious prohibitions are probably not the major cause of the current measles outbreak. There is an anti-vaccine movement in the US due to fears of potential links to autism and other developmental problems in children, and this may be playing some role in the outbreak.
Missing from the causes discussed in the media is illegal immigration. Among the countries sending the most refugees to the US, several are also high on the measles prevalence list, including Congo and Ukraine. Measles is also prevalent in Central America, including Venezuela, regions sending caravans of refugees to the US.
Most of these refugees are not vaccinated against measles or other childhood illnesses. Once in the US, they are dispersed, settling in sanctuary cities, including those with current measles outbreaks. It’s not difficult to connect the dots.
Fortunately, only one case of measles has been reported in Colorado this year, at least as of February.
Scarier than measles is Ebola. 35 percent of refugees admitted into the US are from the Congo, where there is currently an Ebola outbreak of over 1000 cases.
The media and health officials are mystified, looking beyond the obvious, blaming religion and anti-vaxxers, neither of which are new phenomena.
What is new is an overwhelming rise in the number of immigrants illegally crossing the Southern border. Statistics show only those apprehended, not the many more evading border agents. The establishment wings of both political parties are happy to let this continue, despite the threats to public health and national security.
The irony is that those who rail against allowing unvaccinated children into their schools welcome millions of unvaccinated refugees into their country. Until more politicians besides President Trump see the problem for what it is, expect other previously rare diseases to soon become household names.
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