USA Today reports that Representative Bill Zedler (R-Tx.) said that the outbreak of measles across the U.S. is not worrying him. In fact, he is promoting legislation that would give Texans the opportunity to refuse childhood vaccinations.
“They want to say people are dying of measles. Yeah, in Third World countries they’re dying of measles,” Zedler said. “Today, with antibiotics and that kind of stuff, they’re not dying in America.”
But the congressman could not be more wrong: antibiotics only work on bacteria. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for measles, which is a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus.
There are currently six measles outbreaks across the U.S., including Texas.
Before the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine was available, 450-500 people per year died from measles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the past five years there has been at least one death from measles, and health officials are concerned that an anti-vaccination movement will increase that number. According to the World Health Organization, people who choose not to vaccinate have become a global health threat.
Some parents choose not to have their children vaccinated because of the misconception that vaccinations are linked to autism. There is no link, according to the CDC.
Measles is so highly contagious that if an unvaccinated person comes into contact with an infected person, they will get the virus 90% of the time. The MMR vaccine is 97% effective against the virus.