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Christians who went to the Asbury "revival" may have been exposed to measles
An unvaccinated person who has a confirmed case of measles attended the large Christian gathering, state officials said
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The Kentucky site of a Christian “revival” that took place over the past two weeks may have been the launching pad for a measles outbreak.
On Friday, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced that an unvaccinated resident of Jessamine County, who now has a confirmed case of measles, attended the massive “revival” at Asbury University on February 18. Since measles is a “highly contagious respiratory virus,” there’s concern that the others at Asbury may have been exposed to it:
“Anyone who attended the revival on Feb. 18 may have been exposed to measles,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH). “Attendees who are unvaccinated are encouraged to quarantine for 21 days and to seek immunization with the measles vaccine, which is safe and effective.”
“If you may have been exposed at Asbury University’s campus and develop any symptoms, whether previously vaccinated or unvaccinated, please isolate yourself from others and call your medical provider, urgent care, or emergency department to seek testing,” said Dr. Stack. “Please do not arrive at a health care facility without advance notice so that others will not be exposed.”
The events at Asbury, a small private Christian school near Lexington, began on February 8, when dozens of students “lingered after an ordinary morning chapel service to continue singing and praying together.” Other students soon joined in and, with the help of social media, the non-stop prayers and singing for Jesus became a focal point for Christians who’ve long been waiting for another Great Awakening. Tens of thousands of Christians visited the usually quiet campus.
(Whether it’s an actual “revival” is debatable. Just about all the attendees were current Christians who got caught up in a fervor. There’s no reason to believe non-Christians were swept up by any of this. And if Christians at a Christian college are inspired to do Christian things only to be joined by other Christians, it’s not exactly a news story warranting this much press. Tell me when a spiritual revival breaks out at an American Atheists convention and then we'll talk about something special happening.)
What we now know is that at least one virus joined the festivities. And given the percentage of Christians who deny the seriousness of COVID and reject vaccinations, there’s good reason to be worried.
Measles can be serious, and the CDC says about one out of five unvaccinated people who contract the illness will be hospitalized. Children under 5 years old, adults over 20, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems have a greater risk of complications, the agency says.
Children typically get their first dose of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, between 12 and 15 months of age, and a second dose is administered between ages 4 and 6 years.
Because more people, especially conservatives, have turned vaccines into a culture war issue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates over 250,000 kindergartners who are not sufficiently protected from the virus. That could mean the people who claim to be “pro-life” went to a Christian event, then returned home and became walking health hazards for the children around them.
It would be quite a turn of events if this religious event that inspired countless Christians across the country turned out to be Ground Zero for another epidemic. As if the only thing that got revived was another disease.
If there’s any silver lining, though, it’s that even though this is the third case of measles confirmed in Kentucky in three months, the previous two did not pose a public health threat. Still, those cases didn’t involve an unvaccinated person going to a Christian rave, surrounded by thousands of other people, many of whom may not be vaccinated because they don’t accept science.
So far, we haven’t heard of other cases of measles resulting from the Asbury gathering.
The university has not issued any sort of public statement yet about the potential measles outbreak. However, on Friday, they officially ended the “outpouring services” while saying they would informally continue elsewhere.
They didn’t specify the exact nature of what will be spreading.