THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Rise in U.S. measles cases due to vaccination opt outs

The recent surge in measles cases in the U.S. is largely due to those who are unvaccinated.

The CDC announced it had received 288 reports of measles through May 23 of this year, a number that marks a 20-year high for the disease. Nationwide, 43 measles patients have been hospitalized this year, although none have died, Science Daily reports.

Eighty-five percent of unvaccinated Americans who contracted measles this year cited religious, philosophical or personal reasons for not getting immunized.

"People who consciously opt out of vaccines are depending on herd immunity -- that enough other people will get vaccinated so as to prevent infection -- which seriously undermines the herd immunity they depend on for safety," Jorge Parada, the medical director of infectious diseases at Loyola University Health System, said, according to Science Daily. "It's a numbers game, and America is losing ground in the fight against preventable disease."

Parada said that Americans have lost the collective memory of dealing with outbreaks of preventable diseases.

"I have worked in Africa and Europe where I witnessed outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illness due to lack of access to medication, not due to personal choice," Parada said, Science Daily reports. "I saw moms begging for vaccines for their kids. I only hope those who opt out do not live to discover firsthand the devastating consequences of natural infection."