Given the recent outbreak of whooping cough in the Vail Unified School District, an article in this week's New Republic is a timely one.
The piece, titled, "I've Got Whooping Cough. Thanks a lot Jenny McCarthy," describes Julia Ioffe's 21st Century bout of whooping cough, a disease also called pertussis.
Ioffe's piece, which has garnered 800 comments and counting, describes how she's been coughing for 72 days, "doubled over, body clenched, sucking violently for air, my face reddening and my eyes watering. Sometimes, I cough so hard, I vomit. Other times, I pee myself."
And for anyone who missed the Jenny McCarthy reference, McCarthy is the Hollywood actress who has claimed vaccines caused her son's autism. Others, citing a discredited doctor and retracted report, have claimed the same.
Ioffe has some harsh words for the anti-vaccine parents:
"I understand your wanting to raise your own children as you see fit, science be damned, but you're selfishly jeopardizing more than your own children," Ioffe writes.
"You took an ethical stand against big pharma and the autism your baby was not going to get anyway, and, by doing so, killed some babies and gave me, an otherwise healthy 31-year-old woman, the whooping cough in the year 2013."
The pertussis vaccine wears off more quickly now than it did in the past and that adolescents and adults are now advised to get a booster.
Ioffe argues that the booster would not be necessary if parents were vaccinating their children.
She points to herd immunity: it's hard to get sick from people who aren't sick, she writes.
There have been 14 confirmed cases of whooping cough in the Vail Unified School District since Aug. 1 and cases in Arizona spiked 438 percent between 2007 and 2012.
In Pima County we've had 71 confirmed cases so far this year. We had 46 in all of 2012.
Here's a national whooping cough graphic, courtesy of The Dish: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/11/12/straight-out-of-dickens/
Ioffe will most likely survive her whooping cough, though, as she puts it, she really shouldn't be convulsing like a 19th century heroine in the 21st century.
The bigger problem is that infants often do not survive pertussis. Every year in Arizona, one or two babies die of whooping cough. Others survive but are brain damaged.
The Star wrote a series about vaccinations in 2012: http://azstarnet.com/news/science/star-special-report-on-vaccinations-in-arizona/collection_473c9528-a43c-11e1-80e0-0019bb2963f4.html
What do you think? Should we blame Jenny McCarthy?