By Cathy Jameson
With COVID-19 being talked about as much as it has been these last 7 months, other illnesses got the boot from the news cycle. You couldn’t avoid reading or hearing about the measles from early 2015 through late 2019. Now, we hear nothing of them. Oddly enough, the flu is getting a little less airtime, too. Curious as to why these fell of the media radar, I went to the CDC’s website to see if I’d missed any major news about these two former headline grabbers.
Instead of solid data like I usually see about the flu, I saw that statistics for the 2019-2020 flu season were not as complete as previous years have been. Actual numbers were replaced with estimates.
An illness that steals headlines every year from October to April, it's almost as if flu news doesn't matter as much anymore. When in the history of ever has that ever happened?
So, I kept reading.
During the 2019-2020 influenza season, CDC estimates that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths. Source CDC
I was relieved to see that the deaths associated with the flu were far less than another previous season, the 2017-2018 season. If you recall, we were told by the media that over 80,000 people had died of the flu! I’m not sure yet what helped reduce the death toll, but I’ll keep an eye on the data that is being reported.
Now, for the illness that didn’t make its way into recent major US news cycles like it used to – the measles. The last time I remember seeing a national news story about them was in January 2020.
Back then, it had been reported that a college student in Boston had gotten sick with the measles. Prior to that story, reports of outbreaks peppered the news more frequently and usually during state legislative seasons. It wouldn’t come out right away, but we’d learn later that these outbreaks would often include vaccinated students or individuals. Keeping that important fact out of the publics’ eyes was a strategy that helped fuel fear. It also helped lawmakers pass vaccine mandates that parents’ vehemently opposed.
Well, according to the CDC’s latest data, measles cases in the United States have dramatically dropped: As of August 19, 2020, there have been 12 confirmed cases in 7 jurisdictions.
Looking at how many were reported just the year before, that’s the best news ever! Photo Source: CDC.
While I don't miss the constant barrage of flu and measles stories, it's been nice not seeing the media flipping out over typically recoverable illnesses. I know it's a tradeoff though. Instead of flu news and measles outbreak news, broadcasters are only focused on coronavirus. While coronavirus has been a global issue, so is the flu. And is the measles. I guess the difference is that vaccines already exist for those two.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.