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As Disease Outbreaks Tied to ‘Anti-Vaxxers’ Rise, States Take Action

TUESDAY, Nov. 19, 2019 — Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases are on the across rise in the United States, often fueled by “anti-vaxxer” parents reluctant to immunize their kids.

However, states are countering these trends with laws to boost childhood vaccination rates and safeguard children, a new study finds.

“Vaccines are our best public health tool for controlling many childhood diseases,” said lead author Neal Goldstein of Drexel University, in Philadelphia.

“Seeing an uptick in legislation aimed at cutting vaccine exemptions following disease outbreaks suggests that media coverage may raise public awareness and advocacy and response from legislators,” Goldstein said in a university news release.

“While it is unfortunate it took outbreaks of preventable disease to spawn legislative action, it further affirms the widespread support of this life-saving intervention,” he added. Goldstein is an assistant research professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in Drexel’s School of Public Health.

Recent outbreaks of illnesses such as measles or whooping cough in California (2015) and New York (2019) led lawmakers in those states to ban all non-medical vaccine exemptions.

To see if that trend was widespread, Goldstein’s team analyzed 2010 to 2016 state data on outbreaks of 12 childhood vaccine-preventable diseases, including hepatitis A and B, flu, measles and whooping cough.

The investigators also examined 2011 to 2017 data on state bills introduced the year after the start of an outbreak that would tighten or ease vaccination requirements for these diseases.

Each state reported an average of 25 vaccine-preventable diseases per 100,000 people per year, but there was significant year-to-year variation.

Of the 175 state vaccination-related bills proposed during 2011 to 2017, about 53% made it easier to get an exemption from vaccine requirements, while 47% made exemption more difficult.

While there were more anti-vaccine bills than pro-vaccine bills introduced overall, further analysis showed that increases in vaccine-preventable diseases were followed by increases in the number of proposed bills that restricted vaccine exemptions.

There was no association between decreases in vaccine-preventable diseases and proposed bills that made it easier to get vaccine exemptions, according to the study. The results were published Nov. 18 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Legislation to reduce vaccine exemptions is needed in the United States, the study authors said. Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, but there were 695 cases in 22 states in April 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on vaccines.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

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Mumps Outbreaks Hitting Migrant Detention Centers

By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A new government report finds more than 900 cases of dangerous and highly contagious mumps have occurred at 57 U.S. migrant detention facilities over the past year, with nearly half of cases occurring in Texas.

“Mumps is a highly contagious viral disease and can spread rapidly among people in close living quarters,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“Based upon recent video highlights of detention facilities noted in news reports, the horrid conditions seen may provide an environment ripe for rapid spread of the virus,” Glatter added.

While the illness is typically seen in crowded living spaces such as college dorms, “this is the first report of mumps outbreaks in detention facilities,” according to a team of researchers led by Jessica Leung. She’s an epidemiologist specializing in viral diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Glatter explained that mumps can become a very serious illness.

“Mumps can lead to serious and deadly complications, especially in those with cancer, weakened immune systems, the young, as well as in elderly patients,” he said. “Complications related to mumps include meningitis, encephalitis, pancreatitis and hearing loss.”

According to the CDC team, the first cases involved in these outbreaks were reported last October as a cluster of five occurring “among migrants who had been transferred between two detention facilities” in Texas.

By December, eight more detention centers in Texas and six facilities in five other states were reporting a total of 67 mumps cases.

By January, the outbreaks’ continued spread “prompted CDC and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] Health Services Corps to launch a coordinated national outbreak response,” Leung’s team reported.

Overall, between Sept. 1, 2018 and Aug. 22, 2019, a total of 898 cases of “confirmed and probable” mumps had been documented among adult migrants detained at 57 facilities across 19 states, the report said. In addition, 33 staff members at the detention facilities came down with mumps.

Continued

Nearly half (44%) “were reported from facilities that house ICE detainees in Texas,” the findings showed.

Most of those who fell ill with mumps were young men — the average age was 25, and 94% of patients were male. Most are thought to have been exposed to the highly contagious mumps virus while in custody by ICE or another U.S. agency, the report said.

In at least 13 cases, illnesses were so severe as to require hospitalization, and 79 of the men developed orchitis — a painful inflammation of the testicles that can cause infertility.

All of these cases didn’t need to happen, Glatter noted.

Immunization with the combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine “is the most effective way to prevent mumps and its associated complications,” he stressed. “Before the vaccine was introduced, mumps was a common childhood disease.”

Leung and her colleagues at the CDC agreed.

MMR vaccination efforts differ among detention facilities,” the researchers wrote, but “facilities should follow local or state health department recommendations for preventing and responding to mumps.”

Specifically, “detainees and staff members at increased risk for mumps should be offered MMR vaccine,” the researchers noted.

These outbreaks are far from over, Leung’s group added.

“As of August 22, 2019, mumps outbreaks are ongoing in 15 facilities in seven states,” and as new migrants are brought in and detained, more cases of mumps are expected, the team concluded.

The findings were reported in the Aug. 30 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Robert Glatter, M.D., emergency medicine physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City;  Aug. 30, 2019,Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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