What is a “traveling family”?

Despite the fact that we live in a vaccine age, Britain is facing an outbreak of measles, a disease can cause life long damage to its victims:

Parents were urged today to give their children the MMR jab before they returned to school after figures showed measles cases have more than trebled in the last 11 weeks.

There have been 480 confirmed cases in the UK so far this year, compared to 756 cases during the whole of 2006 – the highest year on record.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the number of confirmed cases of children suffering measles was higher than expected for this time of year and urged parents to ensure their children were vaccinated.

Up until June 10 this year, 136 cases of measles, which can be life-threatening, had been confirmed by the HPA.

But as of today, just over 11 weeks later, this had more than trebled to 480.
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Dr Mary Ramsay, a consultant epidemiologist at the HPA, said: “Over the summer holidays we have seen more cases of measles being reported than we would normally expect.

“This means it is crucial that children are fully immunised with two doses of MMR before they return to school.

“Measles is a highly infectious and dangerous illness and, as there is increased close contact in schools, it can spread easily.”

The HPA said while was difficult to confirm reasons why there has been such a jump in recent weeks, a high number of cases has been noted in communities where vaccine uptake is lower, including travelling families. (Emphasis mine.)

My question, stated in my post title is, what is a “traveling family”? Is this a British term that everyone there understands or is it a PC euphemism aimed at obscuring, not clarifying, an important fact related to British public health? As it stands, it has no meaning for me at all. Does it for you?

UPDATE:  By the way, avoiding vaccinations isn’t just a British problem.  I’m a big believer in vaccinations.  There’s no doubt that some carry with them risky side effects, but these side effects pale compared to the risks of an epidemic.  I know some people like to point out that there are no longer epidemics, so they no longer need vaccinations, but these people miss the point that they are benefiting from herd immunity:  that is, if enough kids in the herd have taken the risk of a vaccination, an epidemic cannot take hold, which protects the ones who refuse the shot.  The thing is, if the latter become the largest proportion of the population, herd immunity vanishes.  Mother nature quickly takes advantage of that fact.  The huge resurgence in Nigeria of polio, one of the historic childhood scourges, after a Muslim paranoia attack about the West stopped the vaccination program, is a good example of that fact.

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Comments

  1. Lulu says

    “Travelling families” could be a euphamism for immigrants travelling to and from the third world.

    I have noticed that more educated Brits are failing to immunize their kids because disease risk is low- because of course other parents have been immunizing their children, and they don’t want to expose their children to the possible side effects of the shots. My husband and I know well a young British scientist who justified her decision to not immunize her kids on these grounds, and who looks at parents who immunize with contempt. This ties in with her other “natural” parenting practices like home birth, extended breast feeding (squirting breast milk into the breakfast oatmeal), wearing the baby, and family bed. Of course, the more people who freeload off the immunization of others, the more likely these diseases will return.

    Anyway, lest we get too smug here in the States, we face similar health risks with diseases once rare here imported unintentionally by illegal immigration. A public health nurse I know spoke of several cases of live TB in the public schools in Los Angeles, and nearly all health employees who work with a predominantly illegal immigrant population end up with a positive mantoux test. Unfortunately, a consequence of illegal immigration is that it is virtually impossible to track these diseases as they are brought in- a potential public health crisis.

  2. Al says

    One of the “reasons” parents give for not vaccinating their kids with the MMR shot is a growing belief that the MMR might cause the kid to develop autism, or at least an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) This is hogwash, but now it’s become a topic at medical conferences.
    Lulu is right. Most of the vaccine preventable disease cases in the US are imports. Make sure all your kids and grandkids are fully vaccinated, including the Flu shot.
    Al

  3. Leo says

    They’re probably referring to what would previously have been known as Gypsies. They’re also known as “the Travelling community” or “Travellers” in Ireland. It’s effectively a subculture that prefers to live in caravans and travel from place to place, rather then settle down. As a result, they can have reduced health and lower life expectancy, as well as a lower standard of education (due to moving from school to school).

  4. Carol says

    Did a little googling, which verified my suspicion: travelling families used to be called gypsies. Take a look at this: http://www.leics.gov.uk/index/business/commercial_industrial_property/property_travellers.htm

    And you get a sense of what they are talking about, based on the things that are forbidden and the fact that when they move along, they have to move along at least two miles.

    So if they don’t vaccinate their kids, they are an absolutely fabulous vector for communicable diseases.

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