Texas Children’s Hospital has fired the nurse who posted in an anti-vaxxer Facebook group about giving her own son measles from an infected child being treated at the facility.
Yesterday, the hospital announced that the woman had been suspended pending its investigation of her conduct.
After seeing the infected child at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the nurse allegedly posted on the Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children – Texas Facebook page, admitting her horror at the boy’s illness but reaffirming her anti-vaxxer stance.
The boy is one of at least seven cases of measles in Texas this year and 124 people have already been sickened by the once-eradicated virus this year.
A concerned parent shared screenshots of the woman’s alleged Facebook posts – including one saying she thought about swabbing the sick patient’s mouth and bringing it home’ to her child – with Texas Children’s.
Last night, the hospital fired the nurse for posting protected patient information on social media.
Despite admitting the illness was far worse than she had thought, a now-suspended nurse who saw her first case of measles at Texas Children’s Hospital said she remains anti-vaccine – and that she even thought about infecting her own son with a sample from a sick boy
The measles vaccine effectively eradicated the virus in the US, but public health experts suspect recent outbreaks are driven by the growing anti-vaxxer movement
According to the Houston Health Department, the boy is between one and three years old and has now tested definitively positive for measles.
His is the first case of measles investigated in Houston since 2013, according to the city’s health department, but by the end of January, six cases had already been reported in Ellis County, Texas.
All of those infected were unvaccinated against the virus, according to a Texas Department of State Health Services press release.
It is not clear if the child hospitalized at Texas Children’s was vaccinated or not.
But by the unidentified nurse’s own account, he was extremely sick.
The Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children – Texas Facebook page where she posted has since been taken down, but Houston’s ABC 13 News station obtained screenshots of her postings beforehand.
‘I think it’s easy for us nonvaxxers to make assumptions but most of us have never and will never see one of theses diseases. [But] for the first time in my career I saw Measles this week,’ she allegedly wrote.
‘Actually most of my coworkers and the ER docs saw measles for the first time as well. And honestly, it was rough. The kid was super sick. Sick enough to be admitted to the ICU and he looked miserable.’
Measles symptoms include a flat red rash, red, watery eyes, runny nose, and a high fever.
About one in 20 children who gets measles develops pneumonia, too, and if the viral infection is left untreated too long, children can develop brain welling that can cause permanent damage.
The measles virus (left) was considered eradicated from the US in 2000, but there have been many recent outbreaks of the illness several states and other countries. The nurse said the illness was ‘worse’ than she thought, but she remains steadfastly anti-vaccination (right)
The nurse commented on her own post that she suspected the patient in her hospital had gotten measles while travelling abroad and that she had thought of giving the virus to her son
One to two out of every 1,000 children that are infected with measles die from it. In the decade leading up to the release of a vaccine (in 1963), nearly all children in the US got measles, and between 400 and 500 people died each year.
Measles was considered eradicated from the US in 2000, but there has been a sudden resurgence of outbreaks, which most public health officials blame on the current momentum behind the anti-vaxxer movement.
Vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella is required by law for children in all 50 states, though many allow religious exemptions.
Texas is one of only a handful of states that allow ‘philosophical’ exemptions to vaccinations, a permission won by the anti-vaxxer political lobby there.
The Texas Children’s nurse was struck, but unmoved by seeing her first measles patient.
‘By no means have I changed my vax stance, and I never will,’ she reportedly wrote on the Facebook page.
‘But I just wanted to share my experience and how much worse it was than I expected.’
Nevertheless, she went on to discuss her post in the comments section and at one point wrote: ‘I’m not kidding that I thought about swabbing his mouth and bringing it home to my 13 (year old),’ ABC 13 reported.
Measles is a highly contagious virus, and can easily spread from child to child if they are not vaccinated against the illness.
A concerned parent shared screenshots of the nurse’s posts to Texas Children’s Facebook page on Friday and the hospital launched an investigation.
‘This is a highly-contagious, vaccine-preventable infection. We know vaccination is the best protection against measles,’ a hospital spokesperson told Daily Mail Online in an emailed statement.
Its staff has also reached out to the families of all of the children the sick boy may have come into contact with, a key to containing the spread of the virus, as it be contagious but without visible symptoms for seven to 14 days.
‘We are also aware that one of our nurses posted information on social media and we take these matters very seriously. A thorough investigation is underway,’ the hospital wrote.