MeaslesCDCThe Centers for Disease Control is reporting 539 cases of measles in 17 different outbreaks around the country, the highest rate since 2000. The agency notes, "Measles spreads through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. It is so contagious that any child who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease."

So far no one has died, but ten patients have required hospitalization. Yet another study shows that immunization for measles is not associated with a higher risk for autism. 

Over at the New York Times, physician Pauline Chen offers this relevant wisdom from her daughter:

One of my 11-year-old twin daughters recently came home from school distraught. When I asked why, she lifted her foot.

There was dog poop on her sneakers.

She watched as I flicked away the doggy detritus with a twig, then scrubbed the sole of her shoe with an old brush and hot water. “We don’t like to pick up Buddy’s poop, either,” I could hear her telling her sister, “but we do it because it’s gross to leave it on the sidewalk.”

When I handed her the shoe, cleaned and as good as new, she beamed. “Thanks, Mom,” she said, lacing up. But after a few test twirls in the yard, she stopped.

“Didn’t that dog’s owner know he would cause so much trouble for other people?” she asked, brow furrowing. “He might have even caused trouble for himself if he came back and stepped in it!”

At the tender age of 11, she had seen how one person’s bad decision could negatively affect others.

The same lesson is playing out for patients and doctors across the country, albeit under far graver circumstances.

This year, there has been a major resurgence of measles, a dangerous disease that for decades had been virtually unknown in the United States. And it’s become clear that measles has re-emerged as a public health issue in this country because large numbers of individuals remain unvaccinated.

For more background, read Reason's feature articles on the libertarian debate over mandatory vaccination.