From: IN%"firstname.lastname@example.org" 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,
Kenneth S. Saladin
Dept. of Biology
Milledgeville, GA 31061
office: (912) 454-0816
residence: (912) 453-7088