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Giving Compass' Take:
• Christopher Kane argues that efforts to defeat science deniers can help to prevent outbreaks of deadly viruses, including measles.
• How can efforts to reach science deniers succeed? How does voluntary abstention from vaccination threaten public health?
• Learn how laws can improve vaccination rates.
The measles virus is untreatable. In about 30 percent of affected patients, many of whom are infants and children, complications can lead to blindness, as well as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain—both of which are potentially fatal.
Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 214 measles cases have been diagnosed in the United States this year, an increase of more than 478 percent from the 37 cases that were reported in 2004. In Europe, the number of infected patients has quadrupled in the past two years and now amounts to nearly 41,000, a record high.
Globally, in 2016 about 90,000 people died from the measles virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The disease affects an estimated 20 million people in developing countries, countries in which health infrastructures are weak and access to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is limited. In the United States and Europe, however, longstanding anti-vaccination movements are responsible for the recent outbreaks.
Measles, which should have been eradicated in places equipped with the requisite public health resources, has resurfaced because of misinformation, which caused unwarranted fears about a link between immunizations and autism. Meanwhile, progress in the fight against diseases including measles is threatened by efforts to stop animal research in science and medicine. Together, animal rights groups and the anti-vaccination movement represent twin symptoms of the same problem: science-denial. And, clearly, the consequences can be devastating.
Read the full article about science deniers and viruses by Christopher Kane at Foundation for Biomedical Research.