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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The hard measles

The Portland mainstream media have all gone nuts over the news that there's an infant up in Clark County with a case of the measles. Get vaccinated, they say. Good advice.

Fifty years ago, when I was a kid, there was no vaccine, and so we all got the measles, along with the mumps and the chickenpox. All of these "childhood diseases" were contagious as hell. There were two varieties of measles, which were not the same thing at all -- the German measles, which I think was rubella; and what the old folks called the hard measles, which I think is rubeola. The German measles were supposed to be really bad news for pregnant women, but they were a minor annoyance to the host compared with the hard measles, which apparently is what the child in Clark County has contracted.

The hard measles are some nasty stuff. In my case, it was the sickest I've ever been in my whole life. There have been a couple of wicked bouts with the flu over the years, but the measles take the cake. It almost killed me. I ran a fever of 105 for a while. I lost 10 pounds, which was a good 15% of my body weight. My hearing was damaged a little. The illness went on for quite a while, and they moved me out of the bedroom that I shared with my brother. You knew you were pretty sick when you wound up on mom and dad's bed.

But the strongest memory I have of the whole awful experience was that a parish priest came to the house to see me one night. Father Bob Piatkowski, I think it was. Things never progressed to the "last rites" stage, but a visit from the priest was a much bigger deal than one from the family doctor, Israel Bernstein, who made house calls to us kids on a fairly regular basis.

I don't remember too many details from the priest's visit. I'm sure I was high as a kite on the fever at the time. Eventually, it broke. My body fought it off. And my parents prayed their prayers of thanksgiving.

Five decades later, our thoughts and prayers go out to the little one with the measles, and his or her parents. May this episode pass with no need for a priest or the equivalent.

Comments (19)

Get used to seeing more cases like this, especially in "green" cities. A recent trend with the natural folk has been to skip out on vaccinations..

Conjecture on my part, but As they were planning to fly to india, the child was probably a few years old. And so maybe not vaccinated as mmr is at 1 year?

Marin county has significant whooping cough and measles outbreaks as many families opt out of western medicine. Guess portland is next...?

In my mothers time they used to say, dont count your children until theyve had measles.

If these parents didnt have their kid vaccinated, shame on them.

I think we should all be glad that he hasn't contracted a case of the weasels. Local government got infected decades ago, and still hasn't been able to fight them off.

I wonder if the parents who opt out on vaccinations have ever seen an iron lung.

I had the hard measles, too, and I had all the same symptoms. No priest, though, but my mom, a nurse, was extremely concerned and often woke me up in the middle of the night to stuff popsicles down my throat to cool me off.

I do remember that toward the end of the run of the illness, a tornado hit near my area and I used the confusion in the house at the time to run outside and pedal my tricycle madly toward the most ominous gray-green sky I've ever seen.

Opting out of vacintion is so dumb.
I too nearly died from the hard measles 56 years ago. My vivid memory is of the ice baths to lower my temperature. Also my permant teeth were a bit discolored as a result of that illness. A small reminder of what a now preventable illness can do.

Slams at "greens" aside, the better guess would be That the parents are among the many religious fundamentalist types who inhabit north Clark County. Course we could both be totally wrong, and sometimes even vaccinated people get the targeted disease (medicine isn't Perfect, who knew?)

Yes, opting out of vaccines is not smart. At the same time, let's not blindly follow the pharaceutical-industrial complex as though their only goal is altruistic. The number of vaccines today is about triple those that most of us received in the 70s. And if you believe the profit motive isn't playing a major role in that. . .

When my son was 18 hours old, they told me it was time for him to get the Hep A vaccine. I asked some questions, and found out that Hep A is spread through drug use and unprotected sexual activity, or contact with an infected caregiver. Since none of those applied, I asked why he needed to get the vaccine NOW, versus, say in 6 or 12 months? Well, there is no medical reason -- none -- it's just on "The Schedule". Of course, a vaccine administered in a hospital is reimbursed at a significantly higher rate than one administered in a pediatrician's office. Hmmmm. . . wonder how that got on The Schedule?

I sympathize more than you know. In my case, I was immunized, but later tests ascertained that the main batch of measles vaccine issued in 1966 and 1967 throughout most of the US was ineffective. That meant having to get a new one in 1982, and just in time. I was fine, but a couple of friends went through the same horror you went through, Jack. In no way would I allow anybody else to go through that.

I agree with Anthony.

The "natural" folk seem to have this mindset that because something hasn't been seen much for years that it can't happen.

Like measles or chicken pox or any number of other "childhood" diseases.

Hep A is NOT typically spread through drug use and sexual activity. It's an easily communicable disease that is spread person-to-person by ingestion of contaminated food or water or through direct contact with an infectious person. Usually more of an issue in 3rd world countries.

I think you're thinking of HepB or C.
It might be important to know this type of information before deciding whether or not your child needs a HepA vaccination.

Glad you made it through that horrific experience. I apparently had the "German" measles when I was 6 months old. The media did not do the story justice by just calling it the measles- a common childhood sickness 50 years ago is far different than the hard measles. Also interesting the child was much younger than the age than recommended for innoculation. Also, the baby traveled from India- like orbit not- we are a global community.

My bout with the hard measles was during the spring of 3rd grade. My 105+ fever damaged my eyes, resulting in significant near-sightedness. My 4th grade teacher quickly figured it out when I could not make out what she wrote on the blackboard. I can still remember how that fever affected my sense of smell at the time. And I remember screaming during the cold water baths. No kid should go through this when innoculation is available.

The problem with people who opt out of vaccines citing "personal choice" is that it's not a personal choice at all. Their decision incrementally increases the likelihood that the child will become a carrier, and will even be an incubator for the evolution of more virulent diseases. Perpetuation and evolution of disease requires a critical mass of carriers and genetic diversity of the pathogen. That's why eradication is possible even though a few individuals may always have the disease. We can lead diseases to their genetic dead-ends, but not when more pathways for their continuation are provided by well-intentioned people. It's very serious stuff that affects our own survival as a species. By the way, that oft-cited study connecting autism to vaccines has been proven to be a completely fabricated fraud. Anyone who has ever seen a blue (from lack of oxygen) baby squirm with discomfort and gasp for breath from whooping cough would never subject their infants to that risk.

The boy with measles is 7 months old, typically too young for MMR vaccinations. Just found this out.

I'm "trans-partisan" on vaccines. I want EVERY PENNY of vaccine dollars to go to developing an AIDS and a malaria vaccine, and to eradicating polio/measles in India and Africa so they will be eradicated ASAP, just like smallpox...no virus left, so no vaccine needed, anywhere. Instead, the US public health troglodytes parrot the line "it's only a plane ride away" (ie, the bugs are only a plane ride away...SO, we need to vaccinate every US child who might get on a plane to someplace where the problem is endemic, instead of putting boxes of vaccines and public health workers on planes to immunize the kids in endemic areas, with a view to PERMANENTLY ERADICATE the bugs...but, but, if we do that, what will happen to all those poor vaccine maker outfits and their shareholders???)

Vaccinations have become the domain of an enormous, profit-minded, self-perpetuating public health and medical bureaucracy, and so basic logic in the wisdom of their application is clearly threatened if not suspect. Why doesn't our society spend energy on getting people to breastfeed, which is arguably a far more potent life-preserver than vaccines in the US, where diseases like polio and measles are now practically non-existent? Oh no, that might risk the ire of the formula companies. Ever wondered why women started bottlefeeding in the 20's? Doctors told them formula was better for their babies and sold it to them from their clinics.

Now with increasingly clear evidence that formula feeding reduces offspring IQ and increases the risk of maternal breast cancer, you'd think the hospitals might start treating formula like passive smoke, and start treating breastmilk like a vaccine, right?

Not a chance, because there is no profit motive for anyone.

Now with increasingly clear evidence that formula feeding reduces offspring IQ and increases the risk of maternal breast cancer, you'd think the hospitals might start treating formula like passive smoke, and start treating breastmilk like a vaccine, right? Not a chance, because there is no profit motive for anyone.

I don't think you've been to a maternity ward lately.

PJB: My kids are 3 and 5 years old, and for both of them we were sent home with a container of formula. Keep in mind, we had noted our intent to breast feed all along in both cases. Maybe things have changed in the last 3 years, but I doubt it.

PJB- I have certainly been to a maternity ward to visit a new mom, quite recently, at one of our many local hospitals that hasn't gotten around to signing on to the "baby friendly hospital" code of ethics (ie, formula is not mentioned easily by staff, is not readily available, etc. Less than 10% of US maternity wards are designated baby friendly). When I enquired of the attending RN if her hospital was "baby friendly", I got a rather snippy reply, "oh no, some moms are doing drugs and their babies need formula. Besides, we believe here that moms know what's best for their babies."

Riiiiight..... which is why the US has the LOWEST BREASTFEEDING RATE OF ANY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, and the rate is well under 50%. I believe it is one of the biggest reasons we are so fat, dumb, and unhealthy, compared to the rest of the world.


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