White House communications director’s wife criticizes vaccines: ‘Bring back our #ChildHoodDiseases’

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Darla Shine, the wife of White House communications director Bill Shine, tweeted that that illnesses like measles and mumps “keep you healthy & fight cancer,” anti-vaccination claims that have been debunked by health experts.

Shine made the claims on social media Wednesday amid an ongoing measles outbreak in Oregon and Washington, The Washington Post reported.

“The entire Baby Boom population alive today had the #Measles as kids,” Darla Shine wrote on Twitter.

“I had the #Measles #Mumps #ChickenPox as a child and so did every kid I knew – Sadly my kids had #MMR so they will never have the life long natural immunity I have. Come breathe on me!”

Shine wrote a blog for stay-at-home mothers. Her Twitter account notes that her husband, a former Fox News executive, is “assistant to #POTUS.”

Len Lichtenfeld, interim medical director of the American Cancer Society, said there is no evidence to support the claim that those who have contracted measles have healthier lives or at a lower risk of cancer.{mosads}

“It’s easy to forget the disease burden that came with measles when we were young,” Lichtenfeld told The Post.

“It is a real illness with real consequences,” he said. “Fortunately, for most people, those consequences were not serious, but it is an infection, and it can cause life-threatening events. It can cause pneumonia, and it can cause meningitis. Fortunately, those complications are rare but do occur — and children did die as a result of measles infections.”

Lichtenfeld said that over time, as measles infections decreased, it can “become less relevant and less important.”

“We forget how serious a problem it was for those who grew up in that generation,” he added.

Shine also shared a CNN article  about a cancer patent at the Mayo Clinic who went into remission after being given a “a highly concentrated, lab-engineered measles virus similar to the measles vaccine.”

Lichtenfeld said that exposure to the measles virus alone is not being used to treat cancer. A version, however, has been manipulated to specifically infiltrate certain cancer cells.

“It’s far different in any way, shape or form from giving patients an illness in order to try to treat a cancer,” he said. “That is simply not what we do.

He told The Post that measles and chickenpox do not protect from cancer, but “these are diseases that kill.”

“These are diseases that used to affect millions upon millions of people, and it’s very easy to forget the lives that were lost or the lives that were impacted significantly as a result of the measles epidemic, because we tend for forget,” he told the newspaper. “We didn’t live through or we don’t remember it, or we weren’t aware of it. Let me assure you, it was a very serious disease, and we don’t need to see it come back.”

Officials in Washington declared a public health emergency last month as an outbreak of measles spread across an anti-vaccination “hot spot” near Portland, Ore. 

There were a total of 349 confirmed measles cases across 26 states and the District of Columbia last year — the second highest number since 2000, according to the CDC. There were 667 cases reported in 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that an estimated 3 million to 4 million patients contracted measles a year before the vaccine was introduced in 1963. Out of those patients, 48,000 were hospitalized, 400 to 500 died and 1,000 suffered from a severe complication known as encephalitis, a condition in which the brain swells because of an infection.

The airborne illness became the leading killer of children across the world after smallpox was eradicated in 1980, the Post reported. It was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 after there was no continuous transmission of the disease for more than a year.

Symptoms begin with a fever followed by a cough, runny nose and red eyes. A rash of tiny, red spots then spreads across the rest of the body, according to the CDC. 

Two doses of the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella is about 97 percent effective at preventing the illness, the federal agency said.

Tags Bill Shine CDC Center for Disease Control Darla Shina immunizations Measles Mumps vaccinations
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