The world is lit up with reports of measles outbreaks, from the Philippines and Ukraine to France and the US. However, one lawmaker in Texas is not fazed by any of this news. Bill Zedler, a Republican state representative and prominent ally of anti-vaxxers, recently said the outbreaks of measles and other viruses are not a concern because the US has antibiotics.
“They want to say people are dying of measles. Yeah, in third-world countries they’re dying of measles,” Zedler said Tuesday, according to The Texas Observer. “Today, with antibiotics and that kind of stuff, they’re not dying in America.”
“This is not the Soviet Union, you know,” he added.
However, measles is caused by a virus, not bacteria. Antibiotics are totally ineffective against all viruses. It’s pretty much like fighting fire with a gun.
In fact, there is no specific medical treatment for measles once a person is infected. This is why it is so important to vaccinate and stop the disease at the gates. Although the disease can be deadly, measles can easily be prevented with two doses of a vaccine, which is often administered through the combined MMR vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.
Zedler’s comments come after Matt Krause, a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, filed a bill to make it easier for parents to opt out of vaccinations at a time where a lack of vaccinations is causing disease outbreaks worldwide. Parents must currently apply in writing for an exemption from the Department of State Health Services to opt out of vaccinations for their child if they’re at a public school. Krause’s bill would allow parents to simply print out a blank exemption form, making the process significantly quicker and easier.
Meanwhile, measles cases are on the rise in 98 countries across the world, including the US. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the prime cause of the increase is the “failure to vaccinate”, which they say is often fueled by misinformation. Much of this misformation, especially in Europe and the US, can be trailed back to a fraudulent study by Andrew Wakefield that linked the MMR vaccine to autism. The study has since been retracted and Wakefield is banned from practicing as a doctor in the UK after the General Medical Council found him guilty of “serious professional misconduct".
“The level of misinformation – the world that we live in now – is causing threats to that success in many parts of the world,” Professor Katherine O’Brien, WHO’s Director of Immunization and Vaccines, told reporters on February 14, 2019. “There has been an enormous bout of misinformation that has caused damage to the measles effort.”