portal for epidemic

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Fair use, etc KTRK Channel 13 Houston could be ripe for an epidemic (Houston-AP) -- Houston has the lowest immunization rate of any large city in the country. This has health officials fearful that the nation's fourth-largest city is ripe for an epidemic.

Only 67 percent of Houston children 19 to 35 months of age received childhood vaccinations for diseases in 1999. That's according to figures released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The national average is 80 percent.

Walt Orenstein is a physician who directs the CDC's national immunization program. He says Houston's low immunization rate puts the entire nation at risk because it could serve as the portal for an epidemic. He said that a national resurgence of measles between 1989 and 1991 started in Houston. It infected 55,000 people and killed 120.

Officials say the rest of Texas also has low rates, but not as low as Houston. Bexar County has an immunization rate of 70 percent. El Paso County has a rate of 75 percent. And Dallas County is at 76 percent. (Copyright 2000 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

-- mike in houston (mmorris67@hotmail.com), July 06, 2000


If immunizations are effective, how could an unimmunized child cause an epidemic in immunized children? I have read elsewhere that the effectiveness of immunizations vary between batches of vaccine. The MMR vaccine is supposed to last over 10 years, yet they now require boosters at age 5 and again in the teen years.

-- b weiler (bweiler@yahoo.com), July 06, 2000.

I don't think the problem is with the immunized population. Houston has an extrememly fluid population of "semi"immigrants and visitors from countries other than just Mexico (which is almost an annexed territory at this point). Africa and the near East provide a substantial number of "visitors" and semi-residents. We have a huge volume of international traffic through our transportation centers. In the US, with adequate medical supervision, measles is serious-but not as serious as it would be if it were vectored back to Africa to an area where AIDS is pandemic. The same for chicken pox, hepatitis and small pox or polio. And remember, our visiting "immigrants" may be travelling throughout the US following the migrant worker trail.Immigrants now mean Haitians, Nigerians, Viet Namese, Cambodians, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, etc- there are different cultural values in these groups concerning prophylaxis in child health care.The recent scandals involving international prostitution rings importing women and children into Houston for commercial purposes only heighten these concerns. Our Texas children suffer a broad lack of medical care: add the uncounted population to the uncared for citizenry and a potentially explosive situation which might have a global impact is apparent.

-- mike in houston (mmorris67@hotmail.com), July 06, 2000.

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