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He contracted measles at age 30 — and he blames anti-vaxxers for 'spreading fear' and 'ignoring the facts'

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 3/8/2019 Jami Ganz
a man wearing glasses © Courtesy of Joshua Nerius

Joshua Nerius became privy to his parents’ anti-vaxxer convictions only after he contracted measles himself at 30 years old. Now he’s speaking out against parents who hold similar beliefs, calling them “people who want to spread fear.”

What began as a rash and high fever in the spring of 2016 was later discovered to be none other than measles— a highly contagious, and often life-threatening disease that’s become increasingly rare since the introduction of a vaccine in 1963.

It was only after an emergency room doctor told Nerius his condition strongly resembled measles that Nerius asked his mother if he’d been vaccinated. She responded with a thumbs-down emoji.

Anti-vaxxers, or, those against vaccinations, are often considered to share more of a fringe mindset, often holding steadfast to the belief that vaccinating children can lead to afflictions such as autism. While this claim has been disproved by many reputable sources, fervent anti-vaxxers argue the denial is a conspiracy orchestrated by Big Pharma.

Dr. Paul Offit, who is both a professor of pediatrics at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, spoke to CNN about the children he treated during 1991’s measles outbreak in the City of Brotherly Love. “They were absolutely miserable. And occasionally, they were dead,” he said, referencing the nine children who died as a result of the outbreak.

Nerius contracted measles at his sister’s college graduation, where he insists he only interacted with family, which means, “It was literally just me walking by someone.” This point was confirmed by the Illinois Department of Health, which determined a guest visiting from abroad had passed it along.

Nerius excuses his own parents for not vaccinating him – after all, when he was being raised in the 1980s, the internet wasn’t available for his parents, who were proponents of “alternative medicine,” to fact-check. On the other hand, Nerius doesn’t give today’s parents he same leeway, pointing out, “The science on this has been settled. It’s been solved.”

Related video: How Doctors Think The US Could Improve Vaccination [via Newsy]

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