Measles Outbreak in Charlottesville

Lots of local media outlets are reporting on a local woman hospitalized with measles. Presumably unvaccinated, the woman had just returned from India, where she unknowingly contracted measles. Two of the people she came in contact with now also have the measles. The health department is trying to track down everybody who could have been exposed, so they’re releasing a list of the time and places of her travels around town. Those are the Charlottesville Waldorf School last Friday and the Downtown Mall between 4:30–9:00, specifically The Paramount, Marco & Luca, and Chaps Ice Cream. If you have cause to think that you or somebody who know was exposed, watch for flu-like symptoms that may or may not include a rash. As soon as they develop, isolate the patient and call—don’t visit—a doctor.

This is not an overreaction. Measles are mind-bogglingly contagious—it’s possible to contract it by simply breathing within dozens of yards of somebody who is infected. While the disease is often merely unpleasant, complications are common—pneumonia, encephalitis, partial blindness. Anybody who has had their MMR shots is immune.

Here’s hoping that Waldorf parents aren’t the sort who refuse to immunize their children—if they are, this outbreak could get a great deal worse. Measles were basically unknown in this country until the past few years, when well-meaning but ignorant parents started refusing to immunize their children (there’s a well-debunked urban legend that vaccines cause autism), leading to 118 cases in the U.S. so far this year—plus these three—some of which were among groups of children whose parents denied them immunization. Get your kids vaccinated, folks.

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