America's dangerous backslide on infectious diseases
Photo: George Frey/Getty Images
After a century of progress against infectious diseases in America, experts now warn of a “very worrisome trend."
Why it matters: Infectious diseases kill far fewer today than a century ago, the AP notes, but the numbers are moving in the wrong direction.
- Measles hit their highest U.S. rate in 27 years, concentrated among Orthodox Jews.
- Hepatitis A is up more than 10x from 2017, sparked by an outbreak among the homeless and drug users.
- And eastern equine encephalitis killed 15 of the 38 people diagnosed this year. The 38 cases is double the previous rate.
The big picture: America remains very fortunate compared to our fellow global citizens.
- Measles killed 142,300 people worldwide in 2018, compared to zero in the U.S. in 2019.
Between the lines: America's measles elimination status isn't as important as "the fact that we remain highly vulnerable," Baylor pediatrics professor Peter Hotez told Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly earlier this year.
- There are "at least 100 geographic pockets in the U.S. where a high percentage of kids are not being vaccinated, together with measles cases now regularly imported from Europe where measles is even more widespread," Hotez said.
The bottom line: Backsliding is bad, particularly when it's largely the result of human choices, rather than mother nature's ingenuity.