Public Health officials in Shelby County, Tennessee today confirmed six cases of measles in the county, up from two last Friday. Victims of the measles outbreak are "widely diverse" in terms of age, gender and where they live, authorities said.
In case you haven't had measles and don't know from your own experience, getting "the measles" makes you super super sick with a high fever, an intolerance to light, muscle aches, symptoms that are like cold or flu, and your skin peels. That's if your one of the lucky ones who don't go on to develop life-threatening complications or secondary infections. Malnourished or immune-compromised individuals are at greatest risk of death from measles and related health problems.
Back in 2000, measles was considered to be a disease that had been entirely eradicated in the United States. Thanks to Christian extremism, science denialism, and pop culture anti-vaccine bullshit, it is back, harming children and adults. Thanks, anti-vaxxers! Herd immunity is a thing, and your decision not to vaccinate your kid is part of the thinking that led to this Tennessee outbreak.
"Prior to the current outbreak, there were only nine cases of measles in all of Tennessee during the past decade," said Dr. Helen Morrow, Shelby County Tennessee health officer. Officials in the county today redoubled efforts to control the emerging measles outbreak. At least one hospital in the area is now screening all incoming patients for measles.
One important thing to note: the outbreak doesn't mean these children in Tennessee come from stupid, backwards families, or that the state isn't taking child vaccination programs or requirements seriously. Herd immunity is a real thing.
With the newest cases, the county apparently has more confirmed measles cases than the entire rest of the nation. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed four cases nationwide as of April 1 and "is not aware" of any others in addition to the newly reported ones in Shelby County, CDC press officer Kristen Nordlund said in an email.
Measles, largely preventable through a vaccine administered to most children by the time they enter school, begins with a fever, runny nose and coughing, followed by a rash that spreads from the head down the body. It usually causes only a minor illness, but 1 in 4 cases leads to hospitalization and 1 out of every 1,000 patients dies.
"Six cases of measles confirmed in Shelby County" [commercialappeal.com]