The son of antivaccine parents from Chicago is now cautioning the public about the highly contagious and possibly life-threatening illness: measles.
Joshua Nerius, a 30-year-old software product manager, said he developed rashes and high fever — two definitive symptoms of measles — three years ago. He was prescribed antibiotics by his doctors and was isolated at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital. However, he recounted that he grew weaker and weaker to the point that he could not walk to the bathroom on his own.
He recovered, thankfully, months later but lost 25 pounds during the process.
2019 Measles Outbreak
Nerius did not receive a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine as a kid because his parents believed the misinformation being spread by anti-vaxers. He knows that his suffering three years ago could have been avoided if he received immunization, and he is concerned about the dozens of children in Washington state where a measles outbreak began earlier this year.
"It makes me so angry," he told CNN. "My parents thought they were doing the right thing. They were persuaded by the anti-vaxers."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 206 individual cases of measles have been confirmed across 11 states since Jan. 1. Of that number, 70 confirmed cases are from Clark County, Washington.
Measles Can Kill
Measles is caused by a virus that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. According to public health officials, measles is so infectious that if one person has it, 90 percent of everyone around might also be infected if they do not have the necessary vaccine.
Anyone who does not have immunity can get measles, but children are most vulnerable to the illness. It might also lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die.
All these can easily be prevented by getting vaccinated. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective at protecting children from measles, according to the CDC.
However, despite the risks, there is a growing anti-vaccine sentiment in the United States and around the world. Some are convinced that vaccine causes autism and other health issues — something that has been disproven over and over again by several studies. Other anti-vaxers said that they distrust the government and pharmaceutical companies.
The CDC says that adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles can still get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine through their healthcare provider.