Clark County officials have confirmed 14 recent incidents of measles and are investigating several possible cases.
That represents a clear threat to public health and provides another opportunity to stress the importance of immunizations. The only way to combat misinformation is with reliable information founded on evidence rather than hysteria — and hysterical falsehoods are the foundation for the absurd anti-vaccine movement in the United States.
The latest confirmed cases join one that was confirmed Jan. 4 in Clark County; as far as health officials have determined, each case has something in common — the person who contracted the virus has not been vaccinated. Anybody who might have come into contact with a contagious person, particularly if they have not been inoculated, should be aware of possible symptoms, which can include fever, dry cough, runny nose, and spots or a rash on the skin.
Meanwhile, everybody who is able to do so should receive the standard series of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination. For reasons that are confounding and frustrating, that suggestion has become controversial in recent years. Some people — the very young and those with particular medical conditions — are unable to receive the MMR vaccine. Others might have religious convictions that lead them to eschew vaccinations. But for many people who decline vaccines, their reasoning can be traced to fraudulent science and hucksterism.
In 1998, British doctor Andrew Wakefield wrote a research paper for the medical journal The Lancet in which he suggested a link between childhood vaccines and autism. What Wakefield didn’t mention is that he had been paid by trial lawyers hoping to cash in by blaming vaccines for their clients’ autism. Nor did Wakefield mention that he had applied for a patent on his own measles vaccine, and therefore had good reason to demean the current vaccine.