There have been at least 555 confirmed cases of the highly contagious measles virus since January alone, prompting officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to call this sudden eruption the worst outbreak of the disease in nearly 20 years.
Sonali Kolhatkar | truthdig
The story about measles spreading across the U.S. is unfolding alongside a parallel and troubling trend of increased measles infection rates globally. The World Health Organization issued a report at the same time as the CDC, finding that measles cases worldwide have surged by nearly four times the average number in the first three months of the year.
But the national and global trends spin a tale of two separate realities. An irrational fear of vaccines among well-educated and largely white Americans has fueled an utterly preventable and dangerous disease that had been considered “eliminated” by scientists. Reuters explained that “[a] growing and vocal fringe of parents in the United States oppose measles vaccines believing, contrary to scientific evidence, that ingredients in the vaccines can cause autism or other disorders.” Michelle M. Mello, a professor of law at Stanford Law School and a professor of health research and policy at the Stanford University School of Medicine explained to me in an interview that while there have been pockets of low vaccination rates in minority communities—like Somali Americans in Minnesota or Orthodox Jews in New York City—“On a national level, overwhelmingly, the demographic is educated, relatively affluent white families” that are choosing not to vaccinate their children. The epicenters of measles outbreaks are in liberal states such as California, New York, Oregon and Washington.