This week must be whooping cough news week, which means it’s not a good week. The Wausau (Wisconsin) Daily Herald reports that a whooping cough outbreak has hit the Wausau area. According to the report, more than 100 cases have been seen in the area since the beginning of 2012. And as we have discussed, although the disease is not usually dangerous, it has significant consequences for a number of people including children and those who are immune compromised.
Dr. Ruth Marx, an epidemiologist with the county health department, made a few observations:
One of the problems in containing whooping cough is that it is contagious in the early stage of the illness, before coughing begins, and people don’t realize they have the disease. If parents think their children only have a common cold, they’re apt to send them to school, Marx said.
Another concern is that an increasing number of parents are not getting their children immunized against whooping cough and other illnesses, Marx said, “because parents mistakenly think the vaccinations are more harmful than the illness they prevent.”
Here we go again. The anti-vaccination movement and ignorance has caused parents to not vaccinate their children, based on a belief that the disease is innocuous, almost an innocent part of growing up. This is, of course, based on no evidence whatsoever, partially because most of these diseases have become so rare that society has forgotten what they used to do. Yes, whooping cough generally is not that bad. A bad cough. The problem is that about 21% of children who are infected develop much more serious complications like pneumonia, a serious disease in an infant. And about 0.2% of children die, despite outstanding medical care. It just seems inconceivable that a parent, with a simple, safe immunization, can almost eliminate the risk of death from this disease. The benefits so far outweigh the minor risks (and they are minor) that most of us want to scream about the insanity of not choosing vaccination.
The story included a quote from a parent whose children are in one of the schools afflicted with the outbreak: “I honestly was not all that concerned about it. You roll with it and deal with things.” Good grief.
Get your children vaccinated. There are no legitimate excuses but ignorance.