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Friday, June 25, 2010

Whooping Cough in an Affluent County

Christina Jewett reports at CaliforniaWatch:

Preliminary data from state public health officials show that the state’s richest and one of its poorest counties are leaders in the number of whooping cough cases, as cases of the illness are mounting to epidemic proportions. (See the data in a spreadsheet below.)

The reasons for the apparent trend are surprising.

As I’ve documented here, Fresno often stands out in measures of a vulnerable population gripped with child poverty and other ills.

The opposite is true of Marin, a county often voted among the nation’s fittest.

So what’s going on? Parents in Marin County are citing “personal belief” and signing waivers to opt out of immunizing kindergarten-bound children, said Dr. Fred Schwartz, the county public health officer. The practice is highly controversial and driven by fears (many debunked) that vaccinations can cause more harm than good.

Schwartz said 7.1 percent of kindergartners enter school without shots, among the highest rates in the state.

People in Marin County appear to be concerned with mercury as a neurotoxin. In a recent Earth Week project, several pharmacies swapped out mercury thermometers with digital ones.

Early last year, the Marin Independent Journal reported:

The number of autistic students in Marin has doubled in the past seven years, from 76 in 2001 to 152 in 2008. That statistic has increased by an average of 12 percent each year since the 2001-02 school year for a total increase of 123 percent, according to the Marin County Special Education Local Plan Area, the division of the county Office of Education that provides support to students with developmental disorders.