Subj: Health Hazards of Religion From time to time the Centers for Disease Control and P

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From: IN%"" 19-OCT-1994 14:58:11.77 Subj: Health Hazards of Religion From time to time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues data on morbidity and mortality resulting from or at least correlated with religious belief and practice. Of interest to Sechum-L discussants may be this report: "Outbreak of Measles Among Christian Science Students--Missouri and Illinois, 1994", Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports 43:463-465 (1 July 1994), which I abstract below--as if we need any further proof that religion can not only be hazardous to one's health, but irresponsibly hazardous to the health of innocent bystanders. A major measles outbreak occurred Apr. 4 to May 17/94 beginning with a 14-yr-old Christian Science (XnSci) student who lived in a community assoc. with a XnSci college in Jersey Co., IL, and who attended an XnSci boarding school in St. Louis Co., MO. From Apr. 16 to May 19, measles occurred in 190 known cases in these two counties, all involving unvaccinated individuals. Epidemiologists traced all cases to the IL college or the MO boarding school. Two cases occurred in unvaccinated non-XnSci individuals--a 35-yr-old physician and 9-mo-old infant--who had both come into contact with XnSci students competing in a tennis tournament at the college. Persons with rashes were quarantined in a separate bldg at each school, with 24-hr security guards. Only persons with proof of vaccination were permitted to enter or leave each campus. 600 XnScientists in the two counties consented to be vaccinated. Both the K-12 school and the IL college had had measles outbreaks before, in 1978, 80, 85, and 89; three students died in the 1985 outbreak. About 50% of all measles cases in the U.S. in the first half of 1994 were among persons who reject vaccination. The editor notes: "The magnitude of this outbreak illustrates the potential challenges that groups that do not routinely accept vaccination present for eliminating indigenous measles in the United States.... Communities that do not accept vaccination are at risk for recurring outbreaks and may provide foci of infection that can result in further transmission." Humanist literature and meetings are replete with anecdotes of former Xn Scientists (or victims of XnSci parents) who have broken with blind faith. The horrors inflicted on so many children by XnSci are well known and bad enough in their own right. While I'm reluctant to raise the old spectre of some religious group "poisoning our wells," it is clear that XnSci is a health threat to the rest of us as well. Somewhere else in the rubble of my office is an older long-term CDC study of longevity among graduates of sectarian and secular colleges. If I unearth it before it turns to petroleum, I'll abstract that in a future post to Sechum-L. I gratefully acknowledge my colleague Harold Reed for passing these on to me. Kind regards to ye of little faith, --Ken Saladin Kenneth S. Saladin Dept. of Biology Georgia College Milledgeville, GA 31061 office: (912) 454-0816 residence: (912) 453-7088


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