Spreading faster than bad information about vaccines, a Santa Fe, New Mexico woman brought back measles from London and decided to drop it off at several airports along her route. I thought you could get a direct, or at least one-stop, flight from London to New Mexico. But apparently this 27-year-old took the scenic route, thus infecting as many people as possible.
The unidentified woman flew from London on February 20 into Washington Dulles airport, and was carrying measles with her along with her laptop bag. She also traveled through Baltimore's Thurgood Marshall airport (and I'm guessing a train or rental car took her between the two), and then flew to Denver, and finally came to a disease-spreading stop in Santa Fe.
If you, or someone you know, were traveling last week, you may be at risk as well. Let's just hope no babies were on board, since they can't be protected. Here's why it happened, and how it could have been prevented. (If you're guessing vaccines, you win!)
The woman traveling to London was not vaccinated. London, thanks in large part to the corrupt and disgraced study by Andrew Wakefield, has dropped below safe vaccination levels, endangering herd immunity. Which means if you haven't been vaccinated for measles, you really shouldn't travel to London.
While the CDC is warning anyone who was near this woman to be on alert for measles, the biggest problem exists for those of us with small children who are either too young to have been vaccinated, or anyone who has health problems and cannot be vaccinated. As always, these are the people most at risk when someone chooses to be irresponsible and not do their part to maintain herd immunity against deadly disease.
As far as I'm concerned, this woman who -- as an adult -- chose not to vaccinate herself against this disease is responsible for the illnesses and deaths of anyone she infected. If you decide not to vaccinate, that's fine. Just don't ever go out in public, because you could kill someone who doesn't have a choice in the matter.
Vaccines save lives every single year by helping to eradicate deadly and debilitating diseases. By making a choice to not participate in this hugely successful community health initiative, you're making the choice to put people's lives at risk. It's that simple.
Did you get the MMR vaccine for your child?
Image via perpetualplum/Flickr