Largest Measles Outbreak Linked to ‘Health and Wealth’ Megachurch
Expert on infectious diseases: ‘This is a sadly misinformed religious leader.’
(RNS) Measles is making a worrisome resurgence across the U.S., with at least 135 documented cases this year—most recently at a Texas megachurch.
Measles, once a common childhood infection that killed up to 500 Americans a year, has been officially eradicated in the Western Hemisphere. For many years, the few dozen measles diagnoses in the U.S. were "imported" cases in individuals who traveled from countries where the virus remains common. High vaccination rates largely halted the virus at the North American border.
The country's safety net has become more porous in recent years. Although overall vaccination rates remain high, communities of like-minded parents who refuse immunizations for their children have been vulnerable to outbreaks.
The latest measles outbreak is in Texas, where the virus has sickened 25 people, most of whom are members or visitors of a church led by the daughter of televangelist Kenneth Copeland.
Fifteen of the measles cases are centered around Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas, whose senior pastor, Terri Pearsons, has previously been critical of measles vaccinations.
The outbreak was started by a visitor to the church who had recently traveled to a country where measles remains common, according to Tarrant County Public Health spokesman Al Roy.
"This is a classic example of how measles is being reintroduced," said William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
The U.S. has had more than twice as many confirmed measles cases this year than all of last year, when there were just 55, according to the CDC. Flare-ups brought on by foreign travel have caused …