In a Texas measles outbreak, a megachurch in Tarrant County is being tied to the current spread of the disease which has sickened 21 people.
The ages of those infected range from a 4-month-old baby to a 44-year-old. Dr. Jane Seward of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the Eagle Mountain International Church - where the outbreak started - has preached to its congregants in the past, advising them against vaccinations.
Dr. Seward expects the Texas measles outbreak to spread throughout the church over the next few days. She said: "There's likely a lot more susceptible people… In this community, these cases so far are all in people who refused vaccination for themselves and their children."
Russell Jones, a state epidemiologist in Texas, said that the state boasts a 98% vaccination rate among its residents. For its part, the Eagle Mountain Church advise their congregation to avoid having the vaccination, presumably for religious reasons. Jones said, "We have a pocket of people that weren't immunized."
The megachurch is open about its belief that members should "seek the wisdom of God," before seeking medical advice.
The church writes on its website: "Kenneth Copeland Ministries' position regarding dealing with any medical condition involving yourself or someone in your family is to first seek the wisdom of God, His Word, and appropriate medical attention from a professional that you know and trust. Apply wisdom and discernment in carrying out their recommendations for treatment. This would include: vaccinations, immunizations, surgeries, prescriptions, or any other medical procedures."
In an official statement the church said: "We continue to follow up on pending and confirmed cases to help in any way we can to keep the outbreak contained … We ask that others join us in prayers over this outbreak."