Saturday, July 04, 2015

First US measles death - some questions for consideration

Earlier this year a young woman (exact age unknown) died of pneumonia in Clallum County in Washington State, the first official, or documented measles-related death in the USA since 2003. Pneumonia is a known complication of measles. While her death is tragic, as is common in many deaths from secondary complications (well, or even primary causes) she reportedly had other health issues that increased her risk of death from an infection (measles or otherwise). 

Here is what has been reported: 
- She had more than 1 medical conditions 
- She was on multiple medications, including immune suppressing drugs 
- She did not have the rash typical of measles so the presence of measles was not 
  discovered until the autopsy was done. 
- She had Type D9 strain of measles

Here is what is unknown: 
  verbal report of her family members, though they did not have written documentation of 
  her vaccination status.  
- In what tissue the measles was found (gut, lung, brain, other). 
- Her nutrition status (Vitamin A, in particular, is important to recovery from measles; Vit D3
  is also an immune-modulator - not showing overt signs of deficiency of a vitamin is not 
  proof of sufficiency, or having enough of the substrate to maximize your body's ability to
  manage an infection). 

She is believed to have been exposed when in the same facility at the same time as a person who later developed a rash and was diagnosed with measles. Were they in the same room? Yes - measles is highly contagious - but how close was their contact? If they were merely in the same facility at the same time (but not in the same room) why did others not also come down with measles - hospitals are filled with people who are immune compromised for a variety of reasons. Certainly she was not the only immune-compromised person who was exposed. Yet she was the only one to become sick ... and she was likely vaccinated as well.

No one died during the Disneyland outbreak, yet there was a great hugh and cry - this woman died from an illness that is presumed to be measles associated yet there was very little chatter. Why? 

If she had had measles as a child (spontaneous, "wild" infection), perhaps she never would have developed this pneumonia at all, as recovery from spontaneous infection from measles is known to provide more robust, and longer-lasting immunity than artificial, man-made, temporary risk-reduction via vaccination. That is why those born before 1957 didn't need to be vaccinated - they were presumed to be protected by having had and recovered from a community acquired infection. 

Because nothing is risk free, and because all decisions have both risks and benefits the writer of Vaccine Depot believes in freedom in healthcare decision-making ... if you want to be vaccinated, you should get whatever vaccines you think you need. Conversely, those who are not convinced the benefit of vaccines is greater than the risk should be free to make that decision as well. 

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