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Bills Target High Rates of Texas Schoolchildren Lacking Vaccinations

Bills target high rates of Texas schoolchildren lacking vaccinations

(Austin-American Statesman) Statewide last school year, 44,716 students were exempted from at least one vaccine requirement for nonmedical reasons, which include moral, religious or personal beliefs. The latest number is a 19-fold increase from the 2003-04 school year, when nonmedical exemptions were first allowed. Nonmedical exemptions tend to surpass the number of medical exemptions each year.

Howard has filed bills to be considered next year that would require students to opt-out of the state’s immunization registry called ImmTrac rather than opt-in and physicians to counsel parents on vaccinations before they obtain an exemption.

Jamie Schanbaum, a 28-year-old Austin resident who attended the event Wednesday, said that if parents knew more about vaccinations, they wouldn’t avoid them. Schanbaum lost her legs and fingers to meningitis eight years ago when she was a University of Texas student, she said. She successfully pushed for a law in 2011 that requires every entering Texas college student to receive a meningococcal vaccine or opt out.

“Like most people, I didn’t know what meningitis was or what it could lead to. I watched my limbs turn from red rash to purple to black. I didn’t know if I was going to survive. If people knew about meningitis more, I don’t think there would be a question to opt-out of the vaccine,” she said.

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Fox News Special Report: U.S. Seeing Largest Mumps Outbreak in Over a Decade

Watch: Mumps Outbreak Spreads Across U.S.

 

Parents in multiple states are feeling anxious after top U.S. health officials said they’re closely monitoring the largest mumps outbreak in more than a decade.

“What we are seeing is a highly infectious disease moving in a community,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County Health.

King County, near Seattle, has reported a growing number of cases. In at least five public schools.

Harvard University has been coping with handfuls of infected students since the beginning of the school year. At the University of Missouri more than 200 people have come down with the virus.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention said mumps cases have now surfaced in all but three states, with nearly 4,300 infections reported.

Arkansas is the epicenter, with nearly 2,200 cases, in mostly school-aged children.

“What everyone around the state can do is just make sure they’re up to date with their immunizations,” said Dirk Haselow, Epidemiologist for the state of Arkansas.

Lack of immunizations in general could largely be to blame for the nationwide outbreak, according to public health officials.

Several years ago, rumors circulated that certain vaccines could cause autism in children, while that was later de-bunked. It still terrified many parents to the point of completely opting their kids out of vaccine programs. Something doctors do not recommend to prevent future spread of disease.

“There is no doubt that the number of cases of mumps has decreased dramatically, in the areas we have the mumps vaccine,” said Dr. Michael Cooperstock, University of Missouri School of Medicine.

The virus can be extremely contagious since it’s transmitted through saliva, capable of spreading with a sneeze orcough. Symptoms can include high fever, swollen cheeks and extreme headaches.

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Texas Mumps Outbreak Continues to Grow

Texas’ worst mumps outbreak in years grows with new cases in Dallas area

DALLAS NEWS: The number of mumps cases in North Texas has surpassed 50 as an outbreak in Johnson County has grown and cases have been found in Dallas, Collin, Denton and Tarrant counties.

Dallas County’s Department of Health and Human Services said in a release Tuesday that 48 cases of mumps have been diagnosed in Johnson County in the past two weeks.

Most of the cases there are school-age children from Cleburne and Keene. Health officials said last week that they had traced the virus to an outbreak in Arkansas, where several children from Keene had visited recently.

In Dallas County, eight adults have been infected with mumps.

Six of the cases were related to a party Oct. 29 in the 75219 ZIP code, officials said, and the other two were related to out-of-state travel or visitors.

The entire state of Texas hasn’t reported more than 20 cases of mumps in a year since 2011.

Dr. Elvin Adams, Johnson County’s public-health official, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he doesn’t think the virus will infect many more people there.

“I think we’ve peaked,” he said, adding that it’s likely more cases will be diagnosed because of the disease’s 16-to-18-day incubation period.

Mumps, which is spread through the saliva or mucus of an infected person, is known for its symptoms of puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw and may be accompanied by a fever, aches and fatigue. Some people may remain asymptomatic.

There is no treatment for mumps, but most people recover completely in a few weeks.

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