Friday, April 20th, 2012
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that the number of measles cases in the U.S. is at its highest level in 15 years. The increase is believed to be due to falling vaccination rates in Europe, with Americans catching the highly contagious disease from Europeans or during travel.
The Associated Press reports that the 222 cases in 2011 was significantly higher than the 60 cases that are seen in a typical year:
Measles is highly contagious. The virus spreads easily through the air, and in closed rooms, infected droplets can linger for up to two hours after the sick person leaves.
It causes a fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. In rare cases, measles can be deadly, and is particularly dangerous for children. Infection can also cause pregnant women to have a miscarriage or premature birth.
No measles deaths were reported in the U.S. last year; the last one occurred in 2003. But about a third of the 2011 cases were hospitalized, and one child was touch-and-go for about a week before finally recovering, one CDC official said.
Officials traced 200 of last year’s 222 cases to measles in another country, said Schuchat, director of the CDC’s Office of Infectious Diseases. The largest outbreak was in the Minneapolis area where 21 cases were traced to a child who got sick after a trip to Kenya.
Image: Airplane, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, February 16th, 2012
A growing number of pediatricians are refusing to treat families who choose not to vaccinate their children, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Medical associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics don’t recommend that doctors “fire” families who opt out of vaccines. Instead they encourage pediatricians to bring the topic up at multiple visits but continue to work with families. Yet research shows that it’s increasingly common for practices to push these patients out.
From the Wall Street Journal:
In a study of Connecticut pediatricians published last year, some 30% of 133 doctors said they had asked a family to leave their practice for vaccine refusal, and a recent survey of 909 Midwestern pediatricians found that 21% reported discharging families for the same reason.
By comparison, in 2001 and 2006 about 6% of physicians said they “routinely” stopped working with families due to parents’ continued vaccine refusal and 16% “sometimes” dismissed them, according to surveys conducted then by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Many pediatricians see administering vaccines as one of their main duties in keeping children healthy, and say it’s difficult to work with families when parents and doctors don’t see eye-to-eye on this key issue.
Pediatrician Allan LaReaux of Kalamazoo, Mich., stopped treating non-vaccinating families in 2010, in part because he worries that children who have not been immunized could make others in the waiting room sick. From the Journal:
“You feel badly about losing a nice family from the practice,” [said] Dr. LaReau, but families who refused to vaccinate their kids were told that “this is going to be a difficult relationship without this core part of pediatrics.” Some families chose to go elsewhere while others agreed to have their kids inoculated.
Pamela Felice, an Atlanta mom whose family was dismissed by their pediatrician for refusing vaccines says it’s been difficult to find another doctor. One of her children has gastrointestinal problems and regressed development that she believes is related to immunizations. At least four practices have denied them a first appointment when Felice explains her opposition to vaccines.
What do you think? Do doctors have a responsibility to treat patients even if they refuse vaccines?
Image: Doctor, baby and mom via Shutterstock.
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Friday, December 2nd, 2011
A majority of pregnant women and new mothers have either received flu shots this season or plan to get them, a new survey conducted by the text message-based education campaign Text4Baby has found. The survey collected information from 30,000 women who subscribe to the text message service. Almost 40 percent said they had already received shots this flu season, which officially began in October, and nearly 30 percent said they planned to receive shots.
Thirty-one percent of the respondents said they were not planning to get flu shots. Text4Baby said in a release, “Of the 9,859 who responded that there were not planning to get a flu shot, 22% indicated that they were concerned about the safety of the vaccine, 18.3% were concerned that the vaccine may actually give them the flu, 8% were concerned about the cost of the vaccine, and 14% didn’t think they needed the vaccine.”
More than half of the respondents said they wanted and appreciated reminder text messages on flu shots and other health topics, the service that Text4Baby provides.
The findings mirror similar studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that 49 percent of pregnant women received the flu vaccine in 2010.
Image: Flu shot, via Shutterstock.
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