Posts Tagged ‘outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases’

What Parents of Every Teen Should Know About Meningitis

The most important thing parents of teens need to know about meningococcal disease is that it can be very serious.  And by serious, we mean debilitating and often deadly.

Even with prompt medical treatment, about 1 in 10 people with meningococcal disease will die from it. Of those who survive, about 1 to 2 will have permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss, loss of kidney function or limb amputations.

The best thing parents can do to protect their children from meningococcal disease is to get them vaccinated against all of the preventable forms of the disease.

 What causes meningitis and meningococcal disease?

Meningitis refers to a swelling of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.   While meningitis is commonly caused by a bacterial or viral infection, it can also be caused by injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other types of infections.

Meningococcal disease is specific to any illness caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis (also referred to as meningococcus or meningococcal meningitis).  These types of infections can cause meningitis, but can also cause bloodstream infections (known as bacteremia or septicemia).

It’s possible to have meningitis without having meningococcal disease, and it’s possibly to have a type of meningococcal disease that isn’t necessarily meningitis.  The specific cause of illness is important to identify because the treatment differs depending on the cause.

  • Bacterial forms of meningitis can be extremely dangerous and fast-moving and have the greatest potential for being fatal. The long-term effects of bacterial meningitis can include multiple amputations, hearing loss and kidney damage. Many, but not all, forms of bacterial meningitis can be prevented by vaccination.
  • Viral meningitis has similar symptoms to bacterial meningitis, but for the most part is neither as deadly nor as debilitating. There is no specific treatment available for viral meningitis, but most patients fully recover over time.
Meningococcal Disease Facts

Who is at risk?

Read more…

Disease Outbreaks in Your Town and Across the Globe

January 22, 2014 16 comments

The next time someone defends their decision not to vaccinate because “these diseases are no longer a threat to us” simply ask them to take a long hard look at this map of vaccine preventable outbreaks.


Created by The Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, this interactive map plots the global outbreaks of measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, and various other diseases since the fall of 2008.  In other words, this map identifies recent outbreaks of diseases that could possibly have been prevented by vaccines.  For some people, this map will be a real eye opener.  For others, it will simply confirm what they already know.

Those who follow immunization news will not be surprised to see the increasing threat of whooping cough in the United States and Australia, the prevalence of measles in Europe, and the persistence of polio in Africa.  But for the average person who may not be all that familiar with the global health landscape, there may be some surprising concerns.

Preventable diseases are still prevalent in our world.

While a parent in the U.S. may have never seen a case of polio or rubella, they should understand that these diseases still exist and that diseases are not confined to one country or region.  Since infectious diseases can easily cross borders through international trade and travel, an outbreak in one region could easily spread to a population halfway around the world within a matter of days.  So a disease somewhere is really a threat to people everywhere, especially if  in that “somewhere” there are pockets of unimmunized people.

These diseases are easily preventable with vaccines. Read more…

News of a Texas Measles Outbreak Shows Problems and Promise

September 3, 2013 29 comments

It’s never good news when we hear of people in this country suffering from vaccine preventable diseases like measles.  Especially since endemic measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000.  But what is promising is that the mainstream media coverage of the recent measles outbreak in Texas has clearly come out on the side of science.

TXchurchEarlier this month a measles outbreak occurred when an unvaccinated individual, who contracted measles while traveling overseas, returned to the U.S and attended church services at the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas.  This person unknowingly exposed thousands of others to the disease, including infants in the church’s daycare facility that were too young to have been vaccinated, and who must rely on the protection of those around them.

The Texas outbreak was one of many throughout the country in the past few months.  There were plenty of other measles outbreakspertussis outbreaks and even chickenpox outbreaks that hardly garnered any attention.  And if the pastors of this church hadn’t been actively promoting prayer as a substitute for vaccination, this story of a Texas measles outbreak may have never had the appeal of mainstream media.

TerriPearsonsHowever, it was reported that senior pastor, Terri Copeland Pearsons, voiced her concerns about vaccinations on the church’s website,

“Some people think I am against immunizations, but that is not true. …The concerns we have had are primarily with very young children who have a family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time.”

Not only does her statement contradict the scientific evidence that has shown multiple vaccinations and combination immunizations to be safe, but numerous studies have also completely debunked her accusation that vaccines are tied to autism.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only spiritual leader within the church who was heard peddling inaccurate science.  Read more…