Tuesday, August 27, 2013

God punishes those who take medical advice from stupid pastors

Below, I am copy-pasting most of the Aug. 25 USA Today's report Texas measles outbreak linked to church, by Liz Strabo.

"Measles is making a worrisome resurgence across the USA, with at least 135 documented cases this year.

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 USA's few dozen measles diagnoses 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.

Those sickened by measles include nine children and six adults, ranging in age from 4 months old to 44 years old. At least 12 of those infected were not fully immunized against measles, Roy says. The other patients have no record of being vaccinated. The 4-month-old is too young to have been received the measles vaccine, which is typically given at 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"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 USA 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 that number to spike as high as 220 measles cases in 2011.

New York City also has battled a measles epidemic this year, with at least 58 cases, mostly in close-knit Orthodox Jewish communities. City officials say the outbreak was started by someone who traveled to the United Kingdom which, along with Europe, has suffered large measles outbreaks in recent years. One of the New York children with measles developed pneumonia. Two pregnant women were hospitalized and one suffered a miscarriage, city health officials say...

Other vaccine-preventable diseases also have broken out in recent years, including whooping cough and mumps. Some whooping cough outbreaks have clustered around private schools with lax vaccination requirements, according to CDC studies.

Measles particularly alarms doctors because it spreads like lightning and kills one in every 1,000 people infected... The virus can infect people even two hours after a sick person has left the room...

At the Texas church, the visitor infected not only the congregation and staff, but the church's on-site day care center, according to an announcement on Eagle Mountain's website. Health officials notified the church of the measles outbreak Aug. 14, and the church sponsored a vaccination clinic Aug. 18. Eagle Mountain also scheduled a vaccination clinic Sunday.

All of the school-age children infected in the Eagle Mountain outbreak were home-schooled, health officials say. Texas requires children be vaccinated before attending school.

In an Aug. 15 statement, Eagle Mountain's pastor, Terri Pearsons, said she still has some reservations about vaccines. "The concerns we have had are primarily with very young children who have family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time," she said.

Young children are actually among the most vulnerable to measles, Schaffner says. Their tiny airways can easily swell shut. "This is a sadly misinformed religious leader," Schaffner said.

In addition to getting a measles vaccine, Pearsons recommends that her congregants take vitamin D to fortify their immune systems. Schaffner said there's no evidence that vitamins offer any protection against measles.

"Our children and even adults of all ages need to be immunized now to stop the spread of measles and prevent those potential complications," Pearsons said. "The disease is only shut down when all are immunized.""

I find the report so good that it hardly needs any comments. However, let me add a word or two.

My title does not mean that I really believe in God, let alone God's punishment. However, people at the educational level of Rev. Pearsons and her congregants often use these terms to refer to laws of nature and other causal relationships. So the title expresses the idea (not new in any respect) that humans have evolved to survive and prosper by using their intelligence, and those who have too little of it or deliberately choose not to use it are likely to suffer, as those vaccination refusers did.

Many of these people are still able to learn from bitter experience, as we see from Rev. Pearsons' last words. The sad thing is that all the information that could spare them from the bitter experience was readily available, they just chose to ignore and deny it. Many cultures define stupidity as seeing (bad) things only when they happen and learning only through suffering.

Rev. Pearsons also clearly shows that once a person builds a stupid Weltanschauung, he is likely, even after correcting himself at one point, to continue stupid actions at other points. The stupid pastor who recommended non-vaccination until an outbreak happened now acknowledges vaccines (good) but recommends vitamin D to fortify the immune system (bad). In the 21st century, even the most stupid and ignorant people should know that vitamins do not treat anything except vitamin deficiency. A person with adequate nutrition will not fortify his immune system by guzzling additional vitamin D. Instead, he may harm himself because vitamin D is not readily excreted or degraded by the human body. So those who continue to take medical advice from stupid pastors are likely to suffer further punishments by God.

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