I would like to dedicate this post to an author I am editing right now (and should be editing right now) for causing me to do some fact checking on Smallpox (trying to find out if it was referred to as smallpox or small pox in Victorian England). Smallpox was horrible, much worse than I’d thought. In a city like London, which was filthy, death rates were high. I discovered from wiki that Lady Mary Wortley Montague, wife of the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, helped introduce the vaccine to Britain in–this is amazing to me–1721. In China, references to smallpox ‘vaccination’ were first mentioned in 1549, and history of ‘innoculation’ was shown in India from 1000BC. When Lady Wortley Montague was in the Ottoman Empire, she had her children vaccinated.
A smallpox epidemic hit London in 1721, and the Royal family were afraid of contracting the disease, and had heard of Lady Montague. They didn’t want the process tested on themselves, first, of course, but the condemned occupants of the Royal Prison provided test subjects. Most of them survived (there was still a small percentage of people who did fall ill and die from the innoculation, but it was not as high a chance, by far, of contracting it and living). Lady Montague pushed to get as many people vaccinated as possible, and vowed she would fight any doctors who argued with her.
The World Health Organization eradicated smallpox in 1977.
I’m not exactly sure what to start with next. I’m sure there were people who weren’t having their children vaccinated before this, but the emergence of autism–which first was recognized as a neurological difference in 1910 by a Swiss psychiatrist named Eugen Bleuler while he was trying to define symptoms of schizophrenia–and used the phrase autismus to mean “morbid self-admiration”– “autistic withdrawal of the patient to his fantasies, against which any influence from outside becomes an intolerable disturbance.” Kuhn R; tr. Cahn CH. Eugen Bleuler’s concepts of psychopathology. Hist Psychiatry. 2004;15(3):361–6. doi:10.1177/0957154X04044603. . The quote is a translation of Bleuler’s 1910 original.
The word autism first took its modern sense in 1938 when Hans Asperger of the Vienna University Hospital adopted Bleuler’s terminology autistic psychopaths in a lecture in German about child psychology. Asperger was investigating an ASD now known as Asperger syndrome, though for various reasons it was not widely recognized as a separate diagnosis until 1981. Leo Kanner of the Johns Hopkins Hospital first used autism in its modern sense in English when he introduced the label early infantile autism in a 1943 report of 11 children with striking behavioral similarities. Almost all the characteristics described in Kanner’s first paper on the subject, notably “autistic aloneness” and “insistence on sameness”, are still regarded as typical of the autistic spectrum of disorders. It is not known whether Kanner derived the term independently of Asperger.
I have to give the wiki link because the actual citations simply won’t format correctly, despite my having tried multiple methods, calling them some not very nice names, and then the blue boxes came, and that was it.
I only give this information because many don’t know the origins. Or that for a very long time, mothers of children with autism were blamed as causing the condition themselves. Refrigerator mothers, they were called. The psychiatrists couldn’t find any cause, so they blamed the parent. Autism is such an individual, all-pervasive disorder, I don’t blame parents for jumping at any straw of hope. So when the article appeared in The Lancet, Britain’s leading and very well respected medical journal, by Andrew Wakefield, linking vaccinations to autism in 1998, I imagine parents stopped having their children vaccinated in droves.
As a result of that, in the United States (I can’t speak for other countries, and this blog has gone in a direction I hadn’t predicted, which I should have predicted), measles is on the rise, and there are occasional outbreaks large enough to draw attention by the Center for Disease Control. Meningitis turns up in colleges and high schools. Whooping cough I got to witness first hand when my boyfriend’s daughter caught it. She was coughing for over three months. It was horrible. But that’s on the rise again. Tuberculosis is coming back. Polio breaks out in little areas. Ah–here are some cases of outbreaks:
- A 2002–2003 outbreak of measles in Italy, “which led to the hospitalizations of more than 5,000 people, had a combined estimated cost between 17.6 million euros and 22.0 million euros”.
- A 2004 outbreak of measles from “an unvaccinated student return[ing] from India in 2004 to Iowa was $142,452”.
- A 2006 outbreak of mumps in Chicago, “caused by poorly immunized employees, cost the institution $262,788, or $29,199 per mumps case.”
- A 2007 outbreak of mumps in Nova Scotia cost $3,511 per case.
- A 2008 outbreak of measles in San Diego, California cost $177,000, or $10,376 per case.
Unfortunately, that’s more concentrated on money than the number of people involved. Not listed here are outbreaks in Ireland and the UK.