The outbreaks in the Bay Area and Atlanta have damaged public trust in science and medicine, said Fauci, and build the “powerful rhetoric” of anti-science “liberals.”
And public health officials are often only able to contain outbreaks because they can’t diagnose them or prevent them, he said.
“Are we really doing this right?” Fauci asked. “Does this mean that public health goes hand in hand with political activism? What’s happening is that a political ideology,” no matter what its form, is “upending the process of science and medicine.”
The virus is spreading because it’s hard to catch, because it does not offer a quick or consistent response by patients — its symptoms are mild — and because infections are in increasingly urban and diverse populations.
A surge in measles cases is particularly troubling because a majority of the infections have been linked to exposure in remote communities, with unvaccinated people being most likely to contract the virus, Fauci and others say. The strain also has not been consistently circulated through the broader population.
Measles erupted in communities in Southern California’s Coachella Valley last week with a cluster of five cases in Spanish-speaking communities and more than 30 unvaccinated cases. Residents in isolated communities were given vaccine as a preventive measure.
Now measles is spreading across California in Northern California’s farm country, with more than 100 cases since early August, and more than 90 cases have been linked to extended exposure outside urban areas and from unvaccinated children in isolated communities. More than 100 people in El Paso, Texas, were infected after visiting Disneyland in December. In San Francisco, where measles was among the disease’s most horrific outbreaks, the number of cases topped 200 in 1985.