Top D.C. doc: Immunization needed to prevent return of childhood diseases

WASHINGTON – The District’s top doctor says while the city’s first measles patient in years is recovering, the debate over vaccinations is raising concerns over Americans’ vulnerability to the reemergence of other infectious diseases.

D.C. Director of Health Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt says she’s concerned the re-emergence of measles signals the potential that other infectious diseases long thought eradicated in the U.S. could also return.

While many people have never seen a case of polio, the disease still exists in parts of the world, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Because of international travel patterns, it would not be impossible for individuals who have had exposure to polio to potentially expose an unvaccinated person here,” Nesbitt said during an appearance on NewsChannel 8 Wednesday.

The U.S. hasn’t seen a case of polio since 1979. But other health professionals say without wide-spread vaccinations, there is also concern that diseases like mumps and meningitis could rebound.

Given the fact most of these diseases have been eradicated from the United States, Nesbitt is urging parents to look into the science and vaccinate their children.

“We have an individual and social responsibility for health because we don’t live our lives in isolation,” she says.

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