The state of Texas is suffering a measles outbreak which was begun by a faith healing mega church. The church has now been linked with all 25 cases of measles in Texas. A tiny four month old infant is among those who have fallen ill. The congregation at the Eagle Mountain International Church, located in Newark, Texas, believes that they should “first seek the Wisdom of God,” before seeking medical attention for any ailments.
The measles outbreak in Texas began when a church member, who is not vaccinated, took a trip to Indonesia, and then came back to the United States, only to spread the potentially deadly virus to other church members. One of the church’s senior pastors, Terri Pearson, told reporters she was worried that vaccines may cause autism. Pearson said she was concerned about “primarily…very young children who have family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time.” The link between vaccines and autism has been disproven by widespread studies and is not supported by any major medical association.
NBC News reported that a statement was released by church officials: “We continue to follow up on pending and confirmed cases to help in any way we can to keep the outbreak contained. We ask that others join us in prayers over this outbreak.”
Dr. Jane Seward is the deputy director for the viral diseases division with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She says that there could be over 1,000 people who may have come into contact with congregants of the faith healing church who are infected with the measles virus. “In this community, these cases so far are all in people who refused vaccination for themselves and their children,” she said, but “there’s likely a lot more susceptible people.”
Measles is very easy to catch because it is spread through the air, similarly to the way a cold virus is spread. Measles virus particles are particularly hearty outside of the body, and stay alive for up to two hours, plenty of time for people to pick them up just by touching a surface for an instant.
While measles had been largely eradicated in the United States because of vaccinations, this new outbreak has some doctors concerned. Doctor William Schaffner of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville says, “This is a classic example of how measles is being reintroduced.” Measles spreads extremely quickly, and because of its ease of transfer, officials at the Centers for Disease Control are undoubtedly keeping a close watch on this new Texas outbreak. The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Director of Immunizations Service, Lori Linstead, said her colleagues “are worried about the current outbreak of measles in Texas, because measles is very contagious, spreads like wildfire and can be very serious.”
One in one thousand people who contract measles will die, and the very young and very old are particularly at risk of having poor outcomes from the disease. The four month old infant in Texas who has become ill with measles is perhaps the most vulnerable.
Some have pointed out that the Texas measles outbreak, begun by a faith healing church, was completely preventable if only the church members had followed the guidelines of the scientific and medical communities. Now, thousands could be put at risk for this potentially deadly disease.
By: Rebecca Savastio