There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Amid the continuing measles outbreak in Washington state, Joshua Nerius — who was never vaccinated himself and contracted the disease as an adult in 2016 — is encouraging all parents to make safe decisions about their children’s health.
In an interview with CNN, Nerius, now 30, shared that he contracted measles during his sister’s graduation from Northern Illinois University College of Business in May 2016.
“I didn’t interact with anyone at that graduation besides my own family, so it was literally just me walking by someone,” he told the outlet, adding that the most scary part of the story is that before he fell ill, he visited a conference in Las Vegas where he shook hands with “hundreds of people a day.”
“It’s sobering to think if the timing had been just slightly different, how many people I could have infected,” he shared.
In a statement at the time, the Illinois Department of Health confirmed that another guest, who had traveled to the graduation from outside the United States, had tested positive for the disease.
Nerius went on to tell CNN that it took him months to recover, and that while he was sick he lost 25 lbs., and was so weak at one point that he couldn’t walk without assistance.
Although Nerius doesn’t blame his parents, who made the decision not to vaccinate him, he says the current outbreak in Washington “makes me so angry.”
“The science on this has been settled. It’s been solved. When I look at where we are today, with people who are willfully deciding to ignore the facts, it really frustrates me,” he said. “I just don’t understand the mindset of people who want to spread fear.”
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In January, health officials in Clark County, Wash., declared a public health emergency over a measles outbreak.
To date, there are now 70 confirmed cases and one suspected case of the highly contagious virus in the town near Portland, Ore., according to Clark County Public Health. The majority of cases are in children aged 18 and under, and at least 61 cases are known to be people who are unimmunized.
Measles is a contagious disease caused by a virus that presents as fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by full body rash of tiny red spots, according to the CDC. It is highly contagious and spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Because measles is among the most highly contagious of all infectious diseases, it flares up in areas with low vaccination rates, Peter J. Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, previously told the Washington Post. The outlet reported that 7.9 percent of children in Clark County were exempt in the 2017-2018 school year from vaccines required for kindergarten entry, making it a hotspot for outbreaks.
Measles, which was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 thanks to vaccination, is now seeing a resurgence due to people choosing not to vaccinate. Cases are up 30 percent worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, which last month named vaccine hesitancy — the “reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability” — as one of the top threats to global health in 2019.
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