Measles Outbreaks Underscores the Critical Role of Public Health
Mar 02, 2011

By Amy Pisani
Last week, news hit regarding the investigation of several cases of measles in Boston spurred by an employee of the French Consulate who potentially infected two others; someone living in her building and a restaurant patron in the building where she worked.  This week, a separate incident has been reported involving a resident of New Mexico who contracted measles while traveling through Europe.  In this case, the infected traveler landed at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, traveled via bus to several locations throughout the District and boarded a plane at Baltimore/Washington airport en route to Albuquerque, New Mexico via another stop at Denver airport.  In an effort to contain this disease, public health officials are once again being called upon to investigate the circuitous route taken by this individual who has exposed tens of thousands of people to a highly contagious infectious disease.
It’s important to understand that measles is caused by a virus that is spread from person to person through air particles such as through coughing and sneezing. The measles virus can even hang in the air and live on surfaces for up to two hours.  As recently explained by a San Diego public health officer, measles  is so contagious that if one person  has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.  It is most infectious approximately 4 days prior to the onset of symptoms, which will include a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes (often called “pink eye”). A rash soon appears that generally shows first on the face then spreads to the rest of the body and lasts for five days to a week.  Thirty percent of reported cases experience one or more complications. Historically, death from measles occurred in approximately 2 per 1,000 reported cases in the United States from 1985 through 1992, and 1 out of every 1,000 children who got measles developed a brain infection, with about 25% of those brain infections resulting in permanent brain damage.
While public health officials are spending significant time and money to track down this recent measles case, our country faces some of the largest budget cuts in recent history and the concern is that  the President’s budget does not include an adequate amount of funding to ensure the proper immunization of children, adolescents and adults.  Last year’s H1N1 virus serves as a poignant reminder of the necessity of a strong public health infrastructure armed with the tools to rapidly respond to outbreaks of disease that threaten the entire public.  Vaccines have been hailed as one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century.  It has been clearly documented that vaccines are also the most economical medical intervention available.  For instance, for every $1 spent on the combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, $26 in medical costs are spared.  DTaP vaccine has a similar savings record, with every $1 spent saving $27 in costs.  The entire vaccine schedule for children is estimated to save 9.9 billion dollars in direct costs and 43.3 billion dollars in societal costs over the lifetime of a single-year birth cohort.  Multiply this by the annual birth cohort (the total number of children born each year in the U.S.) and the savings become exponential. 
Certainly the budget deficit requires tough decision making by Congress and while there are innumerable public programs  that will be  cut, from a clearly economic perspective, vaccine expenditures ultimately save money and therefore should remain off the cutting block. Vaccines are dissimilar to other medical and social interventions in that they are administered to the entire population in a series of doses which then infer a lifetime of immunity against diseases that threaten the entire public.  In comparison, other medical and social interventions are designated for smaller subsets of the population and require continual administration in order to be effective.  While no medical intervention can be classified as being 100% effective, vaccines clearly sit at the top of the medical pyramid in the effectiveness category. Vaccines are the quintessential public health intervention.
The mission of the public health departments will not change.  They are tasked with protecting the health of the public, despite their many ongoing challenges such as hiring freezes, budget cuts, vaccine shortages, public mistrust of vaccines, and outbreaks of disease.  Additionally, misinformation about the safety of vaccines, such as MMR vaccine, has resulted in parents declining or delaying vaccination, thereby leaving infants vulnerable to diseases that are often thought to be a thing of the past.  Although the myths regarding the safety of MMR vaccine have been debunked through diligent research worldwide, health departments must continue to conduct costly outreach to re-educate a public that has been lulled into believing that the vaccine can do more harm than the disease it prevents. 
In recent years measles has spread in areas including Southern California, Boston, Maryland, Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania and New York and today we see another case where tens of thousands of people may have been exposed from one infected person traveling through the US from the UK.  And the threat is not just from measles.  Right now, our country is in the midst of one of the largest outbreaks of whooping cough in nearly half a century.  These diseases do not discriminate.  There are no healthy living strategies, compared to those recommended to reduce the chances of heart disease and diabetes, that can protect an unvaccinated individual from a vaccine-preventable disease once exposed.  This is why it is critically important to ensure the timely immunization of all of our citizens. 
The President’s fiscal year 2012 budget calls for vaccine funding that falls nearly $123 million short of the needed funds.  Funding for health departments to keep the public safe from deadly diseases should be left intact.  If you would like to help remove financial barrier to immunization, then check out the efforts of the 317 Coalition.  The 317 Coalition advocates for increased federal funding for immunization and focuses on implementing the polities of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and other relevant policy.   Your voice matters in this public debate, so we encourage you to  help us support immunizations and public health.

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17 responses to “Measles Outbreaks Underscores the Critical Role of Public Health”

  1. […] vaccination programs hurts the community and ends up costing more overtime. Read the full post at This entry was posted in Blogs. Bookmark the […]

  2. Steve Michaels says:

    Good to see that this site is constistent with it´s fear-mongering articles. Since over 97% of the population are ímmune´to measles due to vaccinations, why promote such fear of this disease. Especially since the mortality rate, as reported by the linked articles is 0.00164 per 1000 cases. Thats less than 2 deaths per 1,000,000 WORLDWIDE, meaning even where treatment options are limited or non-existent. By the way, the severe adverse reaction rate to the vaccine is FAR greater than the mortality rate of the illness itself, again bringing into question the risk/benefit argument to vaccinations.

    • ajt says:

      Did you not read this?
      “Historically, death from measles occurred in approximately 2 per 1,000 reported cases in the United States from 1985 through 1992, and 1 out of every 1,000 children who got measles developed a brain infection, with about 25% of those brain infections resulting in permanent brain damage.”
      You say yourself that 97% of the population is resistant to measles due to vaccination. This will only continue to be the case if people continue to get vaccinated. Herd immunity only works if the whole herd gets immunized.
      PS- I agree with Chris, below. Godwin’s law. Sorry.

  3. […] Measles Outbreaks Underscores the Critical Role of Public Health … […]

  4. amy pisani - every child by two says:

    I’m certain that any parent who loses a child to a disease that is supposedly eliminated would feel differently. If my child were on chemotherapy I’d carry around a big placard thanking the vaccinated for keeping mine safe.

  5. Steve Michaels says:

    And if you were giving your child chemotherapy, you would be allowing doctors to inject essence of MUSTARD GAS into your child. You really need to stop accepting the ‘consensus’ science and start researching where ALL of this stuff comes from. Virtually EVERY pharmaceutical company was part of the hated AG Farben of Nazi Germany. Most US researchers in charge of vaccines AND biological warfare research from the 40’s and 50’s were relocated Nazi experimenters who were given immunity (no pun intended) and new identities to work for the US Government. The origin of water fluoridation comes from the Nazi’s using fluoride to make concentration camp prisoners more docile and compliant.
    It really doesn’t require alot of research to find out how this stuff got started and how you and others have been lied to and deceived into believing that all of these things are designed for better health when the opposite is true. All of my research started from a veterinary report about cancer in dogs and cats that ALL occurred at vaccination injection points. The veterinary profession isn’t as ‘under the thumb’ as human doctors and the research tends to be more free and accurate.

    • Chris says:

      Oh, great you pulled the Nazi gambit. All the more reason you should be ignored.

    • Nathan says:

      From the American Veterinary Medical Association:
      “Pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals. Even though some formerly common diseases have now become uncommon, vaccination is still highly recommended because these serious disease agents continue to be present in the environment.”
      Someone here is not doing their research and it ain’t Amy.

      • Steve Michaels says:

        From a study conducted at Purdue University and fully cited and cross-referenced:
        A few pertinent quotations:
        “The vaccinated, but not the non-vaccinated, dogs in the Purdue studies developed autoantibodies to many of their own biochemicals, including fibronectin, laminin, DNA, albumin, cytochrome C, cardiolipin and collagen.”
        “The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force initiated several studies to find out why 160,000 cats each year in the USA develop terminal cancer at their vaccine injection sites.(3) The fact that cats can get vaccine-induced cancer has been acknowledged by veterinary bodies around the world, and even the British Government acknowledged it through its Working Group charged with the task of looking into canine and feline vaccines(4) following pressure from Canine Health Concern. What do you imagine was the advice of the AVMA Task Force, veterinary bodies and governments? “Carry on vaccinating until
        we find out why vaccines are killing cats, and which cats are most likely to die.”
        “In America, in an attempt to mitigate the problem, they’re vaccinating cats in the tail or leg so they can amputate when cancer appears. Great advice if it’s not your cat amongst the hundreds of thousands on the “oops” list.”
        By the way, the AMA actively promoted and covered up for years the fact that Vioxx had already killed in excess of 23,000 patients before the evidence was so blatantly obvious that the product had to be pulled off the market. I have covered that point before, including FDA complicity in the cover-up. Just because the AVMA says it’s okay, doesn’t really mean much if research shows the position to be wrong. But then again, you do seem to only want to hear what you want to.

      • Nathan says:

        That is not “from a study,” it’s a typical antivaccine screed on a website that mentions a study in it to seem legitimate. You really do buy into those. If it was “from a study” it would be actual text from a study.
        Your original point was that veterinarians are not as “under the thumb” as doctors. Now you seem to be arguing against that yourself. It’s entertaining to watch you chase your tail.

  6. […] those that contract it, these advancements are very promising.  Additionally, since we have seen several documented measles outbreaks in the US in just the past few weeks, these advancements couldn’t happen soon enough.  Hopefully, in the future, we can provide more […]

  7. Steve Michaels says:

    I am not chasing my tail Nathan. You interpret everything you disagree with in strange ways to protect your ego. Independent minded doctors are not represented by the AMA and independent veterinarians are not represented by the AVMA. Veterinarians who have questioned vaccine damage and vaccine related illnesses have not been blacklisted and target for character assassination by pharma corporations in the same way as MDs who dare question safety.

    • Nathan says:

      Neither have doctors, unless they use unethical and/or fraudulent means. The people who published the study demonstrating intussusception from Rotashield weren’t blacklisted, they were rewarded. They went on to publish other significant works, including a major study showing that thimerosal does not cause autism.

  8. Steve Michaels says:

    Now I know that you will criticize my source as being Mike Adams because he sells things on his website and disagrees whole-heartedly with your views, but the original source for his commentary has now been removed from the sourcing website and I did not have the foresight to save a cached copy of it before it was censored.
    Let me quote the relevant bit:
    “As was reported in The Australian, documents that have surfaced in the Federal Court in Melbourne expose the criminal intent of Merck staffers who admitted they intended to “stop funding to institutions” and “interfere with academic appointments.” (These actions are highly illegal, by the way.)
    According to on-the-record testimony in this Australian trial, one Merck employee said, in referring to the doctors on the hit list, “We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live…””

    • Nathan says:

      Now I know that you will criticize my source as being Mike Adams because he sells things on his website and disagrees whole-heartedly with your views

      And because he completely gets the science wrong every single time he tries to open his mouth.
      I’ve read the e-mail exchange Adams is referring to, but I don’t have it bookmarked,nor could I find a link to it on his page. IIRC, it concerns unethical means of convincing doctors to prescribe their product, with no mention of “character assassination.” I’m sure this is not the only time this has happened in the history of pharma.
      Either way, this is not an example of doctors being “blacklisted” “who have questioned vaccine damage and vaccine related illnesses.”
      And, yes, if you could cite original evidence of Merck threatening to stop funding institutions who did not prescibe Vioxx, I would be happy to read it. The ramblings that comes out of Adams’ mind are not worth, well, really anything without evidence.

  9. […] for instance the recent measles outbreaks we have witnessed in the past few months in places like Massachusetts, New Mexico, Minnesota and […]

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