The anti-vaccination movement is likely to blame for the Disneyland measles outbreak of mid-December, according to research published Monday by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics.
"The ongoing measles outbreak linked to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, shines a glaring spotlight on our nation's growing anti-vaccination movement and the prevalence of vaccination-hesitant parents," write the scientists in their report. "... Rapid growth of cases across the United States indicates that a substantial percentage of the exposed population may be susceptible to infection due to lack of, or incomplete, vaccination."
The researchers indicate vaccination rates of 96 to 99 percent are necessary to prevent future outbreaks, but their estimates showed as low as 50 percent and no higher than 86 percent of the population were vaccinated before the spread from The Happiest Petri Dish on Earth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the Disneyland outbreak started with a traveler who got infected overseas and then visited Anaheim while infectious. It spread from there mostly among young visitors and cast members who had not been vaccinated.
Dr. Eric Handler, Orange County's health officer, has noted that of the county's 35 confirmed cases of measles, most of the adults and nearly all children were not vaccinated. (The only child who had been vaccinated had received only one of the two required doses, according to Handler.)
"This underscores the importance of vaccination in preventing the spread of measles, and protecting children who are too young to be vaccinated," Handler says in a City News Service report.
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South Orange County has been identified as one of the hotbeds for the anti-vaccination movement, which mostly flourishes in affluent areas.
At least state health officials can report the measles spread has slowed. The last reported case--California's 133rd--was Friday in Ventura County.
But there have been more cases of measles nationwide this year than there were any year since 2000, when the CDC declared measles had been eliminated in the U.S.