Let me introduce myself and my extended family. I am a Measle. The kid in green, my cousin, is a Mump. The Rubellas couldn’t make it, but they sent a yellowish friend, of uncertain lineage.
We are viruses, but, before you call the police, let me explain. We get a bad rap, but we are not your enemies. We are not evil. Like you, we are a life-form, and, like you, just trying to make a go of it.
We were here before you, and were happy to welcome you to the planet. Frankly, we were bored to tears with mute protoplasms, characterless plants, and even your ape ancestors who could say little more than oo-oo-ah-ah. Finally, we cheered, multi-cellular beings, with complex systems to infect and the brains to give us a run for our money. A challenge worth mutating for!
Ever since you, and we with you, migrated from East Africa, we have honored the principle of coexistence. Millions of years before, we had learned an important lesson — Don’t Kill Off Your Host! — when a rogue branch of the family got greedy, knocked off the dinosaurs (it wasn’t asteroids or volcanos, by the way) and, incidentally, drove themselves off the same cliff.
But coexistence works both ways and, frankly, we want to talk to you about your vaccination campaigns, which look suspiciously like extermination attempts.
Take Smallpox, for example. True, our troops may have overdone the scare element a bit. But, really, there never was a mortal threat. Instead, your medical scientists went way overboard and came within an inch of wiping out one entire branch of our family. We expect you to take good care of that tiny remnant, imprisoned but still alive in your top-security laboratories. Get my drift?
Then there’s Polio. Again, over-reaction. No, Polio is not nice. We’re not in the business of being nice. But there has never been the remotest danger it would bring an end to the human race. And then some guy named Salk comes up with a vaccine that, but for far-seeing Afghanis, Pakistanis, and Nigerians, might have wiped out that branch of the family.
And, I admit, it gets personal when my very own family is under attack. I think you know what I’m talking about — the Great Measles/Mumps/Rubella Vaccination Conspiracy. For a while, it looked like we were to be hunted down just like our Smallpox and Polio brethren. Things looked pretty terminal until, incredibly, the tide began to turn.
Some say it was our PR campaign: Measles Are Temporary — Autism Is Permanent; Uncle Sam Wants YOU (as a Guinea Pig); and so on. Some say it is the Internet, where rumor and innuendo drive out fact and common sense. Some say it is the anti-science peddled by your politicians (Republicans, I think that particular life-form is called).
Let’s not upset the balance. You can keep up your so-called MMR inoculations, but do not make them mandatory. We will harvest some of your babies, especially from among the un-vaccinated, but it will not be so many that it scares everyone back to the needle.
Remember, we still have Ebola, and all you have is science. We probably can not kill you outright, but we could give you a deathly scare. Call it an armed standoff.