At the Happiest Place on Earth, watery eyes can usually be attributed to kids out having fun past naptime. But tears, not to mention rashes and fevers, are being traced to a more sinister source at Disney’s California theme parks: the measles.
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The Orange County outbreak, which has hit some 22 people, was apparently incubated among the throngs of visitors at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20. CBS News reported that at least 15 of those affected had not been vaccinated for measles, a disease that had once been all but eliminated.
The Centers for Disease Control attributes a recent spike in measles infections to a decline in vaccinations—a decline that in turn can be chalked up to the anti-vaccination, or anti-vaxxer movement. The anti-vaxxer movement is largely built on the misconception that vaccines cause autism – a false fear Michele Bachmann rode during the 2012 election cycle, claiming one mother said her child had become “mentally retarded” from the HPV vaccine. Though the study from which the idea emerged has long been retracted, the idea has proven harder to eradicate than, well, a disease outbreak.
Mother Jones had this to say about the anti-vaxxer movement last year:
“When too many children go unvaccinated, vaccine-preventable diseases spread more easily, and sometimes children die …
“So as a rational person, you might think it would be of the utmost importance to try to talk some sense into these people. But there's a problem: According to a major new study in the journal Pediatrics, trying to do so may actually make the problem worse. The paper tested the effectiveness of four separate pro-vaccine messages, three of which were based very closely on how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) itself talks about vaccines. The results can only be called grim: Not a single one of the messages was successful when it came to increasing parents' professed intent to vaccinate their children. And in several cases the messages actually backfired, either increasing the ill-founded belief that vaccines cause autism or even, in one case, apparently reducing parents' intent to vaccinate.”
If the idea that vaccinations cause autism is bad enough—but last month one anti-vaxx group went so far as to say it was a “legitimate question” to ask if vaccines might cause homosexuality.
The LA Times story has a list of SoCal locations (in the Long Beach and San Bernardino areas) where people could have been exposed to measles as well as the dates they could have been exposed. Risk is reportedly low, but those who may have been exposed should be aware and watch out for symptoms such as cough, fever, rash and watery eyes, the Times reported.
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