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Author: TriSec    Date: 04/15/2017 12:05:56

Good Morning.

I was just skimming the news, and a couple of consecutive stories leaped out at me.

But before I get to them, I want you to go backwards into your own memory banks. We've all had them, but do you remember any of your vaccinations? Most of us won't, as the bulk of them happened when we were babies. But I distinctly remember getting polio and smallpox via the school. I also have a tetanus booster every now and again (and so should you, if you haven't recently), and of course we get the flu vaccine every year.

Back about 2001 or so, Mrs. TriSec and I underwent a full-spectrum vaccination cycle for a number of weird worldwide diseases in anticipation of traveling to the Philippines. It was certainly eye-opening, and I've never forgotten. Every now and again I'll mention it to someone under the guise of "The things we take for granted in the West."

So it's mind-boggling to me how things like this could even still happen in an allegedly modern country.

(CNN)The Texas Department of State Health Services warned this week of multiple ongoing mumps outbreaks. The surge, which includes 221 cases this year, constitutes the highest incidence of mumps in the state in 22 years.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person through saliva and mucus.

"What we've seen -- as in other parts of the country, (it's) really just the same thing -- a pretty big resurgence in mumps cases over the last six or eight months," said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the state's health services department. In 2016, Texas experienced 192 mumps cases, he said, primarily in the last few months of the year.

Mumps typically begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite lasting a few days, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people will have swelling of the salivary glands, causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. Generally, symptoms last at least two days but no more than 10 days.

Because it is caused by a virus, mumps does not respond to antibiotics. Doctors generally recommend bed rest and over-the-counter pain relievers.
"We have largely seen outbreaks in North Texas, so the Dallas-Fort Worth area and some of the surrounding counties," Van Deusen said, adding that Dallas County has experienced two or three significant outbreaks.

"We've had quite a large one with, counting last year and this year, more than 150 cases in Johnson County, which is just south of Fort Worth," he said. "We've certainly seen cases in other areas of the state, but those have been where the largest outbreaks have been centered."

An outbreak in Johnson County, in particular, included 189 cases spanning last year and this year among children and a couple of college students, he said.

"There have been people who have traveled back and forth between (Johnson County) and Northwest Arkansas, where they've been seeing much of the activity, so it seems to be linked to that outbreak," Van Deusen said.

An outbreak of mumps began in Arkansas in August, explained Dr. Dirk Haselow, Arkansas' state epidemiologist. Between August and April 13, Arkansas reported 2,930 cases, he said. (Similarly, Washington state (PDF) has been hard hit by the mumps, reporting 611 confirmed and probable cases during 2017.)

"We've had less than 500 cases this year," said Haselow, who believes his state is at the tail end of its outbreak. "Thankfully, the number of cases we've had each week decreased recently. We've only added 14 cases in the last three weeks." At the height of the outbreak, nearly 50 cases a day were reported across 35 counties. Today, only four counties are experiencing infections.

But, that is Texas. I don't know what goes on down there in Jesusland most of the time, nor do I really give a flying fuck, but that's just me. There's another outbreak happening in Minnesota, too. Measles here.

Minnesota health officials have confirmed five new cases of measles in young children in Hennepin County, bringing the total number of cases in the outbreak to eight.

All eight are unvaccinated children ranging in age from 1 to 4, the Minnesota Department of Health said in a Friday night news release. Seven of the cases have occurred in the Somali-American community, it said; the department offered no information about the eighth patient.

"This outbreak is about unvaccinated children, not specific communities," Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in the news release. "Unfortunately, the Minnesota Somali community has been targeted with misinformation about vaccine risks. We're partnering with Somali community leaders and health care providers to counteract that misinformation."

Seven of the eight cases occurred among people who have been in contact with one another, according to Kris Ehresmann, infectious-disease division director of the state Health Department. Six of the affected children have been hospitalized.

Ehresmann said the Health Department is working with the Somali-American community to alert people to the outbreak.

Local and state public health departments are "investigating how the children became infected and are working with people known to be exposed to inform them of recommended protective actions," the department said.

In 2000, measles was declared officially eradicated in the U.S., but international travelers exposed in other countries can spark new infections here when they come in contact with someone who doesn't have immunity. Almost all measles cases in this country have occurred among the unvaccinated.

In 2014, the United States experienced a record number of measles cases, with 667 cases from 27 states reported — the greatest number of cases since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

From Jan. 1 to March 25 of this year, 28 people from 10 states that didn't yet include Minnesota (California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington) were reported to have measles, the CDC says. In 2016, 70 people from 16 states contracted it. In 2015, 188 people from 24 states and the District of Columbia were hit, many of them infected in an outbreak linked to a California amusement park.

Minnesota sees a small number of cases each year; in the past four years there were just two cases annually, according to the state Health Department. But in 2011, a small outbreak resulted in 26 cases. All were imported or linked to foreign travel.

Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa, according to the CDC.

And in part of that consecutive story series, there's also an outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil, but it's affecting a different species. Brazil's response is apparently to kill them all.

BRASILIA — A yellow fever outbreak is tearing through Brazil leaving thousands dead in its wake — thousands of monkeys, that is.

The epidemic, the worst Brazil has seen in decades, has killed more than 200 people so far. But it's also threatening to wipe out some of the country’s most endangered primates. Not only are monkeys susceptible to yellow fever, but local residents have begun pre-emptively killing monkeys, incorrectly assuming that they help spread the disease.

As the epidemic advances, rural towns are littered with monkey corpses falling from trees, terrifying villagers. One town in the southern state of Minas had to close down a park after 38 dead monkeys were found in its premises.

But, contrary to local lore, these primates don’t transmit the disease. In fact, they play a crucial role in preventing its spread. A dead monkey is often the first sign yellow fever has reached a new town, which can serve as an alarm bell for authorities directing vaccination campaigns. It’s a warning sign that allows health officials to monitor the disease before it hits humans.

Scientists are calling the monkey killings an environmental disaster. Howler monkeys have been hit the hardest, with more than 1,000 killed since January. As the disease spreads north, scientists are particularly worried about the endangered brown howler monkeys, which have already started to become infected and face the threat of extinction.

“The virus is spreading like a wave, very fast and in all directions. These primates are particularly sensitive and are dying quickly.” said Fabiano Melo, a biologist based in central Brazil who specializes in monkeys. “We are destroying our biodiversity because of a disease we can control.”

It's often hard to make ties in the modern world to things ancient, but I can read this list and see we've made significant progress since Mr. Trump was elected.


2 comments (Latest Comment: 04/16/2017 04:29:15 by BobR)
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