Whooping cough returns to Nevada

As the anti-vaccine movement surges, so are more than a dozen maladies once thought vanquished. The Council on Foreign Relations has created a world map showing the rise of cerebrospinal meningitis, chicken pox, cholera, diphtheria, rotavirus, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, whooping cough, mumps, streptococcus suis and other lethal but preventable maladies in every nation.

Until recently, only 30 to 40 cases of whooping cough were reported annually in the United States. Twenty-two cases were reported in Nevada alone in 2013. Whooping cough kills about 300,000 people on earth each year. In the U.S. before vaccinations, about 9,000 people died annually. Infants are especially susceptible because they are not completely shielded until they've received their three doses of the vaccine, but these days, adults are also at risk because they have not been getting booster shots.

In Utah and California, it's measles that is rising. In the 1920s the death rate for measles sufferers was about 30 percent, but with vaccinations, by this century it had dropped to less than a percentage point—three deaths per thousand cases of measles.

The anti-vaccine movement was fueled by a fraudulent 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield and other scientists in the British journal Lancet that alleged a link between autism and vaccines. On the strength of that study, U.S. celebrities like Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy and Robert Kennedy Jr. began campaigning against vaccinations. Investigations later linked the study to lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers and found flawed research procedures. Wakefield was barred from the practice of medicine because of “serious and wide-ranging findings” of misconduct. RFK Jr. wrote lengthy articles, for Salon and Rolling Stone, both of which were later repudiated by the publications and removed from their websites.

Critics widened their criticism to vaccinations generally, though there is no serious science supporting their view.