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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Measles debate - Inspired by REAL via a post on her blog

These thoughts were inspired by good friend REAL on her blog. Here's the link:

I posted these thoughts as a comment to her post, but they were too long. I'm posting them here for her and for anyone else who might like to broaden the discussion. Here's the Comment:

These thoughts add a new dimension to the debate that I've never heard, and I'm happy to have stumbled on it. I wanted to add that misinformation and disinformation are playing their roles here, too, and while you suggest different groups have different goals, there are political and financial forces at play working hard to create fear around measles and that misinformation sets neighbor against neighbor as some adopt the propagandized point of view and others either don't hear it or don't adopt it.

I want to share that I my very own self am a measles survivor! I was miserable for a week when I was 2 or 3 and now I am a pool of immunity here in the US. I no longer have the ability to spread the plague, I mean measles. My sister had it when she was 5 and was miserable and had to have the shades drawn because the light hurt her eyes. Everyone knew back then that these poor kids would have sensitive eyes during their bout of measles. I don't remember anything about my brother having them. But most of us - classmates and friends and siblings - had measles by the time we went to school. And not one of us is now capable of passing it on or catching it. AND, we're all still alive.

(I should be fair. I had a friend in middle school who had kind of limp dishwater-colored hair. She said that until she had measles she had had blond curls.)

When we were little, we got immunized for D, P, and T. Diptheria killed almost all the little ones who got it, whole households of children at a time. Pertussis, whooping cough, is tough on babies. Tetanus comes from puncture woulds in places like barnyards. A lot more people had barnyards back then. Tetanus will never be eradicated. But then came polio. I had friends who had polio and it's well worth avoiding. We were not allowed to swim in public places in the summer because of polio. So good riddance! I'm not even worried about what might occupy its niche. Polio survivors can have ongoing problems all their lives and I'm all for preventing it: we grew up with a justified fear of iron lungs.

I am glad I didn't have to worry about D or P for my babies, and I never did worry about T. The problem is that while we were all preventing awful things, drug companies were being rewarded for their enterprise with a constant and reliable flow of many dollars. And they liked it. So as with any other pleasure center, they said 'more, more'. And so we got MMRs. (This is all observation - I haven't gone into it in depth as so many valiant young moms and others have.)

Measles did cause some deafness, and some died when they had it as kids. Mumps - never got it. It wasn't contagious like measles. Rubella - this causes deafness and other defects in in utero babies at certain stages of pregnancy, and you don't see those problems around anymore like we used to.

All these sound good - qualitatively. But since no one in our culture likes math, the tools for figuring out the real costs vs the real benefits has to be left to others (who know people who like math) and that makes us vulnerable to their propaganda. Self-serving propaganda.

So I had never thought of what will move in to take the place of the 'missing' viruses. That's a whole new way of looking at it for me. I'm just worried about who is duping whom. In a risk-averse culture like ours, any prevention sounds good. But as you're suggesting, every push in one direction is going to be rewarded by an equal and opposite one in the other, and most of these will have unforeseen consequences.

Solution? Be informed. This post (which you resisted for so long) is one piece of information and thought that when added to others may lead the formerly uninvolved to more informed opinions and a rebalancing of 'what we know' based on others' opinions to a greater pool of discussion with more contributors and more profound thinking and a better-balanced consensus. I don't know what's best here. I am a pool of one, someone who survived measles and fortunately never had polio (but then was limited to a kiddy pool for summer swimming).

Thanks for adding to the discourse. Your blog filled an eco-niche in the discussion. Brava!

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