Hot on the heels of an outbreak of measles in Tucson, there are reports of an outbreak of measles in Salzburg, Austria. About 180 people are infected, and most of them are children who attend the same private school.
Hubert Hrabcik, director general of public health in Austria’s Health Ministry, said the vaccination rate for measles, mumps and rubella, which are administered together, may have been “almost nil” at the school.
This would not be surprising, since if you aren’t immunized, you’ll very likely get the highly communicable disease. And as I mentioned before, if you get it, you are exposed to a significant risk of developing corneal ulcers and scarring, and blindness. There’s also a risk of encephalitis leading to brain damage. I don’t know whether this situation is a result of anti-vaccination activists (update: it is), but it nevertheless illustrates that their vision for the world has consequences: rampant disabling disease.
In an effort to curb the number of infections, Salzburg schools now will require students to prove they have been inoculated or that they previously had the disease. If students refuse to be vaccinated, they could be barred from classes, Hrabcik said.
Health Minister Andrea Kdolsky said in a statement there was “no need to panic,” but she and Salzburg Gov. Gabi Burgstaller urged people under the age of 40 who have not had measles to be vaccinated.
Keeping children away from the schools, and forcing others to bear the expense of immunization is necessary to deal with the outbreak, obviously, but it isn’t a particularly good thing. Yet that is the direction we’ll likely go if the anti-immunity crowd have their way.