Rising concerns about measles outbreak for the Super Bowl may be unfounded, though authorities are urging caution.
With thousands of visitors arriving in Arizona for the Super Bowl, there has been rising concern about measles by some of the fans flocking into the city to see the big game. Many have been worried about the highly contagious disease being spread in the stadium, which will hold 57,400 tightly packed people, or about the many travelers in close proximity throughout the city.
Although there were only seven confirmed cases in Arizona, health officials in the state had warned that 1,000 people may be at risk, largely confined to Kearny, a copper mining town of about 2,000 residents. California has verified 91 cases since December, most originating in the Disneyland outbreak, which has spread to Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington, home of the Seahawks. Many have expressed concern about going to the game, worried about travelers bringing the disease. The disease centers are advising anyone with symptoms not to attend and watch the Super Bowl from home.
Though still rampant in the world, measles had been nearly eradicated from the U.S. in recent years. Before the measles vaccine (1963) and the MMR vaccine (1971), there were around 500,000 cases and 500 deaths from measles every year in the U.S. In 2004 there were just 37 cases but in 2014, it had risen to 644 confirmed cases, the highest in years.
Many attribute the recent outbreaks of measles to an increasing aversion to vaccines in the U.S. In Arizona, the number of kindergarten children without the measles vaccination rose from 1.6 percent in 2004 to 4.7 percent in 2013. An increasing number of parents express fear of long-term side effects that vaccines are purported to cause.
Some established physicians support this view. Jack Wolfson, a holistic doctor, spoke about vaccines to the Washington Post, saying “Unfortunately, [viruses] mean that some people get sick and some people die, but the reality is that we can’t inject our children with chemicals.” He has a lot of popular support, despite recent criticism. A recent report which falsely linked autism to vaccines may have likewise given him, and others, more support.
Fear at the Super Bowl, however, may be largely unfounded. Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stated that she was not overly alarmed about the potential risk because she believed most of those at the game, mainly adults, will be vaccinated.
Most fans, as well, are not overly worried. Patriots fan Don Crisman, enjoying the festivities in Phoenix, told The Guardian that he had only recently heard of the measles scare, stating, “Well, I’m not going to worry about it.”
Nor is the measles outbreak an isolated event as the Ebola outbreak was. It has been a constant reality in the U.S. which has increased the last several years. The greatest danger may actually be in the airports, as traffic in Arizona increases and families are more at risk from overseas as well as U.S. visitors.
Nevertheless, the Arizona department of health services state that they will instate an emergency alert system to quickly identify and isolate any possible measles threats which might occur at care centers related to Super Bowl events.