vaccine

Nothing like a good measles outbreak to get people thinking more kindly about vaccines.

One third of parents say they think vaccines have more benefit than they did a year ago, according to a poll conducted in May.

That's compared to the 5 percent of parents who said they now think vaccines have fewer benefits and 61 percent who think the benefits are the same.

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The measles outbreak that happened late last year in the western U.S. has renewed discussion about vaccination policies.  That very issue was the main topic of a panel discussion Tuesday at the University of Kentucky.

Health officials in Illinois are trying to find the source of a measles infection, after five babies were diagnosed with the contagious respiratory disease in a Chicago suburb. Saying that more cases are likely, a health official warns, "The cat is out of the bag."

Because the Illinois patients are all under a year old, they can't be vaccinated. The new cluster of cases joins more than 100 other reports of measles in 14 states this year; most of them have been traced to an outbreak at Disneyland in California in December.

As the measles outbreak continues to spread, political leaders with an eye on the White House in 2016 spent much of the week jumping into, and then trying to bail themselves out of, the vaccine debate.

Some brushed the issue off as an unnecessary media circus, but it's worth taking a look at its deeper political meaning. Here are five things the vaccine politics kerfuffle of 2015 tells us about the emerging field of presidential candidates for 2016.

1. Vaccination politics are a problem for Republicans — not Democrats.

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The canine distemper virus among Hopkins County dogs is on the rise. Dr. Monroe Slaton of Madisonville Veterinary Clinic doesn’t usually see cases of the respiratory virus which causes fever, loss of appetite and nasal discharge.  He attributes the rise in the rate of distemper to new dog owners neglecting to get their pets vaccinated. Slaton says most of the cases are coming from people who have adopted dogs from animal shelters.  The disease spreads to dogs by air, contact, and water.