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“Vaccine War” county hit by pertussis outbreak

June 25th, 2010 · 5 Comments · Easy marks

Ashland, Oregon, according to its chamber of commerce website, “is a pretty, small town, surrounded by gorgeous mountains, lazy creeks, and roaring rivers.” According to the Ashland Daily Tidings, it’s also surrounded by an outbreak of whooping cough.

“So far this year 23 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, have been confirmed in the county, more than twice the number usually seen in a whole year,” reports the Ashland Daily Tidings.

The pretty, little town featured prominently in “The Vaccine Wars’ , a Frontline episode about vaccine rejectionism broadcast in April. Ashland’s parents are more prone than those in most communities to withhold some or all vaccines from their children in the mistaken belief they cause autism or other developmental disorders. According to the city’s website, the autism rate in Ashland is higher than the national average.

A health official quoted in today’s article says the City of Ashland “hasn’t seen especially high numbers of infections so far.” The population of Jackson County is about 205,000, and only 10 percent of its residents live in Ashland.

The west coast is currently suffering an outbreak of pertussis not seen in years. Over 900 cases have been reported in Calfornia this year, triple the expected number. The disease has claimed five infants in the Golden State, all younger than three months old. The worst outbreaks have been reported in the Bay Area, Los Angeles County, Orange County and Fresno County.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department has reportedly identified more than 100 cases of whooping cough this year. The county reported  two cases of pertussis in 2009 and 17 in 2008.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. // Jun 26, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    So, in a town of about 20,500 people we see 23 cases in 6 months when we should normally see only 11-12 for a whole year. Meaning that these Ashland mums (one of them a nurse) have managed to hike the incidence to about four times its usual rate?

    I saw them in the documentary, very cocksure in their attitudes that they weren’t going to vaccinate their children – regardless of any risks involved to the public in such a small town. So, they went into this line of action knowing full well what they were setting the town up for.

    And now a lot more people (presumably children) who were placed at risk of contracting the disease were infected because of these stupid mothers.

    I would hope that they feel utterly stupid and ashamed. However, there’s a serious Dunning-Kruger effect going on there: these women were so cocksure because they thought they knew better than a medical practitioner with additional public health credentials… and, because of that, more children have been exposed to more serious harm than the mothers were prepared to believe.

    Even if these ignorant and – quite frankly – selfish women were to say ‘oops, sorry!’, it is now too late for that to be much comfort to anyone whose children are now infected or to the children themselves.

    The one who is a nurse is of especial guilt for this one: it’s part of her training to know about public health risks and behaviours that put the public’s health in danger. She should be subjected to sanctions for that.

  • 2 FreeSpeaker // Jun 28, 2010 at 7:02 am

    I agree with David re sanctions for the nurse-mother. It is about time that people are held accountable for their words and actions.

  • 3 autblog // Jun 28, 2010 at 8:12 am

    The 23 cases were seen throughout Jackson County. Ashland is about 1/10 the population of Jackson County. But pertussis cases are more prevalent in the summer, so the numbers may go up faster in the months ahead.

  • 4 Read Me // Mar 2, 2012 at 12:05 am

    http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/6/5/00-0512_article.htm

  • 5 Chris // Mar 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Yes, “Read Me”, that is called cherry picking. Pulling out a twelve year old article in another country.

    Essentially it says to keep up herd immunity. Please make sure you get a Tdap, and encourage other adults and teenagers to do the same.

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