OUR VIEW: Contain the spread

There was a time when entire communities were seriously impacted by the effects of communicable diseases.

There was a time when entire communities were seriously impacted by the effects of communicable diseases.

Outbreaks of the flu and common cold throughout the beginning of the 20th century could force entire towns to curtail public events to try to contain their spread. The headlines in community newspapers at that time tell not only of the cancellation of festivals and sporting events, but of the resulting deaths that came from such outbreaks.

As medical research and advancements in public education and treatment were made, the impact of illness has been greatly reduced. Today, we generally see reports of increased cases of flu, colds or other illnesses, but nothing on the scale of mass outbreaks of what are considered to be rare diseases these days.

So that’s why it’s unusual to see cases of mumps, measles and whooping cough make headlines now — especially the recent incidents of mumps suffered by professional hockey players. There are generations of people who contracted mumps as children, once a common childhood illness, and reports are rare of outbreaks among the adult population. Immunization has helped to reduce such outbreaks — and helped prevent large-scale spreads of communicable disease.

There is a concern about the rising complacency among people when it comes to inoculations against disease. Fewer outbreaks can lead to less awareness and concern and perhaps fewer people getting immunized. It has caused enough concern that health care facilities are providing masks to wear for people who have not received a flu shot.

We aren’t telling people to rush out and get a needle. But we urge people to think not only about how medical advancement has, for the most part, kept large-scale outbreaks at bay, but about how your decisions can impact your community.

There’s a reason we aren’t seeing serious outbreaks today. Learn more by speaking with your doctor.