As the number of newly diagnosed measles cases jumped to 100 this past Friday, the virus is not the only thing that’s spreading. Fear has encapsulated the nation as the constant stream of broadcasts persists. The media has stirred up quite a bit of concern with headlines that read: “U.S. measles outbreak is bad, and it’s getting worse” or “The return of measles.” These news agencies like CNBC and The Gazette published these headlines as if describing a villainous creature that’s back for revenge. This simply is not the case, and although it is important to be aware of such things, there is little need to panic.
Measles is without question a dangerous virus, but its symptoms, case numbers and effects have been highly exaggerated by the media. In 2014 alone, there were fewer than 650 reported cases of the measles virus in 27 states as reported by the Center for Disease Control. In contrast, CNN recently stated that up until this year, the virus was almost completely eliminated in the United States. With that being said, what are 100 cases to the national average? This twenty-four hour coverage has caused such fear mongering among the public that parents are darting to their nearest health care providers and pleading for doctors to give their children the vaccination.
A report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that measles was more likely to lead to complications in third world countries where the health infrastructure is poor and malnutrition is prevalent. This population makes up the overwhelming majority –more than 95 percent of measles related deaths. In the United States however, there is a far less chance of not only catching the virus, but also the likelihood of complications occurring at all.
Despite its publicity, it is still important to understand that the measles is a highly contagious virus. The WHO also emphasized in their report that the “Measles vaccination resulted in a 75 percent drop in measles related deaths between 2000 and 2013 worldwide.”
Many of those who have not already been vaccinated are at a greater risk of catching it as reflected in the number of people who were exposed to the virus while visiting, ironically, “The happiest place on Earth,” the Disneyland resort in California.
In December it was confirmed that 91 people, including employees and visitors, left the amusement park with the newly contracted virus in their system. Since this has been confirmed as the source of the outbreak, the research that has been done on these victims shows that the vast majority were unvaccinated against the disease. This included children who were too young to receive the shot as well as the non-vaxxers who chose not to receive the measles-mumps-rubella shot.
This information can be easily understood. If you don’t receive the shot, you have a better chance of being infected. Pretty simple. What does not make sense are the six cases that contracted the virus who have been vaccinated, two of which received the second shot as recommended. There is still no explanation for why this has happened other than the justification that measles is insanely contagious, theme parks are pretty crowded and sometimes, your body just doesn’t respond to the immunity.
For those who do not understand how this virus works, a virus causes measles and it is normally passed through direct contact and through the air, as published by the WHO. So what can people do to protect themselves from the mickey measles?
Brenna Waldron, a junior health science major at DePaul said, “College students at DePaul should wash their hands, exercise, get chiropractic adjustments and eat healthy to avoid sicknesses. Germs are everywhere.”
The measles vaccination is the single most effective vaccination and is covered by even the most basic health insurance plans. If you have not already been vaccinated, it is best to do so to protect yourself.
In essence, the pressure from the American media’s sensational coverage of measles outbreaks shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Making sure that everyone is vaccinated should be the main concern among Americans. As stated by Waldron, “Germs don’t cause diseases, weak immune systems do.” So go get vaccinated and do not get distressed about what you read and see in the news.