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Texas megachurch linked to measles outbreak

 Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas

Mona Reeder/AP

The problem that arose from the Eagle Mountain Church was that the leader and televangelist, Kenneth Copeland, 76, told his flock to abstain from receiving immunizations as they are “criminal” and that “you don’t take the word of the guy trying to give the shot.”

A case of divine irony.

A rare outbreak of measles that has infirmed 22 people in northern Texas has been traced to the flock of an anti-vaccination televangelist.

Public health officials are looking into the Eagle Mountain International Church in Tarrant County, TX, whose leader is outspoken about not vaccinating children, citing it as a cause of autism.

Currently, it is believed that an unvaccinated man returning from a trip to Indonesia (where measles is still, very much, a threat) contracted the illness and spread it among his fellow churchgoers.

As the disease spread from the church, young children and adults in the neighboring ears have contracted the measles.

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Officials expect that several more people will be reported having the measles in the coming days, as the disease is extremely contagious. Ninety percent of those who are not immune will contract the measles if they encounter someone who already has them.

The situation is so dire that states surrounding Texas are preparing for the worst.

In a public statement Russell Jones, the chief epidemiologist for Tarrant County Public Health said, “If it finds a pocket of people who are unimmunized, and the majority of our cases are unimmunized so far, then if you are around a person with measles, you will get sick.”

According to the CDC, the measles is very much preventable and the vaccine is 99% effective against the disease, which along with “herd immunity,” which is when a community is vaccinated, prevents the disease from spreading.

The problem that arose from the Eagle Mountain Church was that the leader and televangelist, Kenneth Copeland, 76, told his flock to abstain from receiving immunizations as they are “criminal” and that “you don’t take the word of the guy trying to give the shot.”

RELATED: NJ HEALTH DEPARTMENT ISSUES MEASLES WARNING

Since the outbreak however, the Eagle Mountain International Church has changed its tune and is currently urging its followers to immunize themselves and their children, albeit without withdrawing their belief about the dangers.

“The risks associated during an outbreak really outweigh the risks during vaccination,” said a statement from Copeland’s own daughter.

The misinformation about vaccines that caused this outbreak is not an isolated incident. The myth that vaccines cause autism in children was first introduced by Andrew Wakefield, a now discredited former surgeon and medical researcher who wrote a research paper in 1998 that made a link between childhood vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella and the appearance of autism.

His research was proven fraudulent and Wakefield was also accused of 12 counts of abuse of autistic children.

Before his lie was made public, however, his recommendations of abstaining from vaccines caused a steep decline in vaccination rates in the UK and an immediate rise in measles cases that resulted in several fatalities.

@JulianArenzon


Health – NY Daily News

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