A Super Bowl Measles Outbreak Is A Very Real Possibility & Yes, We Can Blame Anti-Vaxxers

If you were attending Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona this Sunday, what would you expect to get out of it? Some longtime memories? A win by your favorite team? A few good photos to throw up on Facebook? Well, speaking of throwing up, here's an altogether more horrible possibility: how about measles? According to ABC News, Arizona health officials are worried that a Super Bowl measles outbreak could happen, after reports broke that seven people in the Copper State have already come down with the highly contagious disease.

The case for concern is pretty simple. Basically, the Super Bowl is the kind of event that draws not just fans of both teams participating, but fans of football's spectacle and grandeur writ large. In other words, people from all around the country, packed into the 63,400-seat stadium — as prime a condition as it gets for an infectious disease to spread through many people. Measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is so infectious that 90 percent of people close to a sufferer will contract it, and the symptoms are no joke. At best, it's about a two-week-long, grueling throat and sinus ailment, complete with a painful red rash. At worst, it can prove fatal.

If you're wondering how exactly this became an issue, given the fact that measles had been largely eradicated in the United States for years, well, get ready for a frustrating answer. Over the past few years, cases of measles have been on the rise, thanks to a disturbing and deeply ill-conceived trend among many parents — upper-class Californian parents, in particular. That's right, I'm talking about the anti-vaccination movement.

Based on myriad, widely disproven concerns about vaccination, (the debunked belief that childhood vaccinations cause autism chiefly among them), countless parents have decided to forego protecting their children against threatening diseases, measles included. It's a state of affairs that's gotten so bad that some Southern California privates schools have lower vaccination rates than those in the poverty-stricken African nation of South Sudan. And slowly but surely, it seems to be having an impact, as previously conquered diseases, like measles and whooping cough, have been roaring back. A recent measles outbreak at Anaheim's Disneyland theme park — about as public a potential incubator as possible — didn't help matters.

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Now, with these seven reported measles cases in Arizona, officials are clearly fearing the very same incubator process could take hold at the Super Bowl, and are advising anybody with measles-like symptoms to stay away. According to ABC News, 1,000 people are already being monitored for the disease, having been exposed to this miniature outbreak. Unvaccinated Arizonans are being advised to stay out of public areas for the next 21 days, including unvaccinated children being held home from school and day care programs.

In short, if you have any reason to believe you're either getting sick with measles, or are vulnerable to contracting it, please be attentive and smart about how you handle it, and where you go. Suffice to say this is exactly the kind fo public health crisis nobody wants to see. And, as a secondary measure, talk to people in your community about the importance of vaccination. After all, while celebrity (pseudo-celebrity?) anti-vaccination stalwarts like Jenny McCarthy and Rob Schneider continue to champion decades-old fraudulent science, these are conversations that need to be had.

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