The recent spread of measles, attributed to false information that’s been disseminated, is an unfortunate example of the battleground that is social media over the past decade-plus.

As of last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 764 cases of measles in 2019, the highest in 25 years. It’s also a record number of cases since the disease was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.

Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. It then causes a rash. Some people develop severe complications, such as pneumonia or brain swelling.

Children younger than 5 and adults older than 20 are more likely to experience complications, making the disease especially dangerous for them.

The move by some to refuse to have their children vaccinated for measles is the culprit for the spread of a disease. The anti-vaccine folks have been fed “information” that vaccines cause autism, believe it to be true, and choose not to have the vaccines administered to their youngster.

A quick check with credible sources such as the World Health Organization, CDC, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and others show science, not urban legends, but apparently didn’t fit the anti-vaxxers own agenda.

Sound familiar from a political perspective where some only chose “information” from others with the same beliefs? You bet.

It’s similar to what agriculture production has faced over the years and what happened during the most recent elections where folks spread their own agenda and propaganda and that so-called information is believed without checking the legitimacy of the source.

Crop and animal production — conventional and organic — has felt the brunt of these falsehoods for a long time and the attacks continue regardless of what credible science says.

It’s a shame. We are better than this.

Tom C. Doran can be reached at 815-780-7894 or tdoran@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow him on Twitter at: @AgNews_Doran.

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