The power of modern day technology has been able to almost completely eradicate many deadly diseases and viruses from the face of the earth, including polio, whooping cough, mumps, and measles. However, if the vaccines are not regularly given to young children, these viruses can rear their ugly heads and cause incredibly dangerous outbreaks.
Currently, this is exactly what is happening across the nation. And the cause of these outbreaks isn’t exactly a mystery.
There has been a widespread trend of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children, claiming these vaccines are dangerous and can cause developmental delays and autism in the future. On the far fringe, some parents even believe that pharmaceutical companies are engaged in a conspiracy to harm children through vaccines. Unfortunately, the anti-vaccination trend has put the entire country at risk.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of mumps cases nationwide hit a 10-year high, with more than 5,300 cases reported in Washington D.C. and 46 additional states. The disease, which is characterized by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, muscle aches, and loss of appetite, used to be a common childhood illness, but now it’s quite rare. Mumps is especially dangerous because it can cause deafness, blindness, and even meningitis if it goes undetected.
Measles is also making a comeback. This virus is widely known by the large red welts it causes. It is highly contagious, and the CDC says that if an infected patient comes in contact with 10 people, nine will become infected.
Before the vaccine, the last time the country saw an outbreak of the measles was all the way back in 1958. A little more than 40 years later in 2000, the illness was declared completely eradicated from the U.S.
However, like the mumps virus, the actual viruses that cause the infection are still floating around. Because of those who chose not to vaccinate their children, everyone is at an increased risk. Not to mention that there is an additional threat from those visiting the U.S. from overseas, as there is no way to check for viruses before boarding a plane. Eric Schneider, of the Texas Hays County Health Department, puts this into perspective for NBC4I.
“In today’s travel heavy society, any of these vaccine preventable diseases could be boarding a plane right now and heading to our community at 600 mph.”
So, for now, doctors are urging parents to strongly consider vaccinating their children as soon as possible and to think of the health of others when making their decision.