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1/24/2017
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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Uh oh. The United States has had its first measles death in 12 years:

The woman's measles was undetected and confirmed only through an autopsy, according to the Washington State Department of Health. The woman's name was not released, but officials said she lived in Clallam County.

The woman was probably exposed to measles at a medical facility during a measles outbreak this spring, according to the health department. She was at the hospital at the same time as a patient who later developed a rash and was diagnosed with measles. Patients with measles can spread the virus even before showing symptoms.

Before vaccines were available, the disease struck 3 million to 4 million Americans a year, hospitalizing 48,000 and killing 500. Now, vaccines are available, and we should have the damn disease whipped.

But . . .

The woman's death was a preventable, but predictable, consequence of falling vaccination rates, said Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development in Houston.

Measles has surged back in recent years as groups of like-minded parents have opted against fully vaccinating their children. Last year, 644 people contracted the virus.

"Like-minded" morons are what we're talking about here. There are relatively few of them, refusing mostly because they fear the effects of the vaccines despite all the debunking over the "causes autism" claim. But it takes only a few to screw things up. Communities need to vaccinate at least 92 percent of children to prevent outbreaks, and the vaccination rate in Washington state is under 90 percent, so there you go.

Indiana seems to be on solid ground, with only about 1 percent of students exempted from vaccinations. In some states, parents can get an exemption for "philosophical reasons." That option isn't available in Indiana -- the only exemptions allowed here are for medical or religious reasons. (Which is why there are periodic outbreaks of measles and other pereventable diseases in pockets where there are Amish communities.)

I've had the measles, and it's nasty stuff. I can't understand why parents would risk their children getting it, even if death weren't a possibility.

I'm immune now, though. And also to mumps and chicken pox (although I guess that sucker is still a ticking time bomb, waiting to turn me into a walking pile of shingles). Had the whooping cough, too. And double pneumonia. Name a childhood disease, I probably had it. It's almost unbelivable that vaccines for all that stuff weren't available when I was a kid.

One good thing about the state of medicine today is that even when we get something, whether by screwing up or through no fault of our own, there is a much better chance than ever that physicians and researchers will have figured out a way to deal with it. More than once in my life I have been successfully treated for something that was fatal in an earlier time. Several years ago, I had a gum infection that swelled my jaw to twice its size. Without the medicine I was treated with, which was not available just a few decades ago, I would have been disfigured for life.

So no complaints from me about Big Pharma. I hope they keep making a ton of money and keep turning out the miracle drugs.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

Is anybody else surprised at how fast the self-driven car industry is shaping up? Ford, Google, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Uber, among others, have all boldly declared that they will get fully autonomous cars and trucks on the road in the United States by 2021.

President Obama leaves the Constitution weaker than he found it. No kidding, you geniuses. It's not surprising given that he chose to mostly ignore it. My greatest fear about Donald Trump is that he will, too.

Poll: 69 percent of Americans don't want Roe v. Wade completely overturned. That's not all that much higher than previous polls, so no big surprise there. But it's interesting to dig into the numbers and compare Democratic and Republican views. Republicans had very mixed opinions of abortion Democrats are the more radical, almost always opposing any restrictions at all.

Ford announces it is cancelling a planned new plant in Mexico and will build a $700 million facility in Michigan instead. Like Carrier, it says it has faith in Donald Trump to create the kind of pro-business climate he has promised. I hope that trust is justified.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is currently taking applications for its “Men’s Project,” a six-week program that aims to counter the alleged harmful effects of society’s masculinity paradigms and pressures and empower participants to promote “gender equity." I worry about my masculinity paradigms all the time, I really do.

House Republicans reverse course on gutting congressional ethics office after a firestorm of criticism and a single tweet from Donald Trump. Even if they were right on the substance of their complaints about the office (and some Democrats seem to agree with them), it was the stupidest political move possible. Voters have just told you clowns they are fed up with politics as usual, and your opening move is to shout that it's all about you? They don't call it the Stupid Party for nothing.

Nice to see a little class now and then: Bill and Hillary Clinton will attend Donald Trump's inaugeration, along with Jimmy Carter and George W. and Laura Bush. Health reasons will keep George H.W. Bush away.

18 major scandals in Barack Obama's "scandal-free" presidency.

Wolf Blitzer of CNN joins those who blame Indiana for Chicago's gun violence. It ain't where they get the guns, Wolf, it's what they do with them.

Political correctness has finally come to medicine and medical journals, and it's just as annoying and dangerous there as it is evrywhere else: "In Russia in 1839, Custine wrote that Tsar Nicholas I was both eagle and insect: eagle because he soared over society surveying it with a sharp raptor’s eye from above, and insect because he bored himself into every tiny crack and crevice of society from below. Nothing was either too large or too small for his attention; and sometimes one feels that political correctness is rather like that. For the politically correct, nothing is too large or too small to escape their puritanical attention. As a consequence, we suspect that we are living an authoritarian prelude to a totalitarian future."

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