Jim Carrey’s anti-vaccine rant has been all the rage this week. The trend continued yesterday when he angered the mother of an autistic boy whose photo appeared on Carrey’s Twitter stream. Carrey has since apologized for lifting the photo.
Unfortunately, an apology will not stop the spread of measles due to dwindling vaccination rates. A woman in Washington died yesterday of complications from measles. This is not only tragic, but significant, for it’s the first measles death in the United States since 2003. Slate details the grim statistics. The woman lives in a county where five other people suffered from measles:
She likely contracted measles when she visited a health facility; a person who was later identified as having measles was there at the same time. The woman who died was apparently taking a series of medications that lowered her immune system’s ability to fight off disease. Although she didn’t present a rash or other obvious external symptoms, she died of pneumonia caused by the measles infection.
Carrey’s rantings followed the new California law that banned personal exemptions for vaccination. Washington currently has no such law on the books. This immunocompromised woman stood little chance once exposed to the disease. With fewer children being immunized and a lack of herd immunity, it’s amazing the U.S. went so long in between measles-related deaths.