Son of an anti-vaccine, this measles survivor has a message for you

Son of an anti-vaccine, this measles survivor has a message for you

After surviving measles, a young American whose parents decided not to vaccinate him wants to tell his story to alert the public to the fact that there’s nothing trivial about this disease… and that he’s lucky to be alive to talk about it.

Joshua Nerius, 30, is an IT product manager in Chicago. Three years ago, he was seized by a sudden, intense fever and rash.


The doctors consulted prescribed antibiotics, but nothing helped: his condition only got worse. So much so that he ended up in the emergency room, where a doctor asked: have you been vaccinated? The specialist already suspected measles.

Without waiting, Mr. Nerius texted his mother to check, to which he received, for all response, a thumbs-down emoticon. This landed him in an isolation room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Seriously ill, the young man became so weak that he was no longer able to move around without help. He lost 25 pounds and took several months to fully recover.

“I felt so bad… I really felt it,” he told CNN.

When he hears about the measles epidemic in Washington State, he suffers. He suffers when he thinks of the dozen children who have to live with the consequences of their parents’ choice not to vaccinate them.

“It makes me so angry! My parents thought they were doing the right thing, they’d been convinced by anti-vaccinationists,” he recounts. He doesn’t hold it against them, aware that in the 80s they didn’t have access to as much information as they do now. Today, however, those who have children no longer have any excuses, he believes.


Joshua Nerius is one of those rare adults who has experienced measles and can tell us what it was like.

Beyond the physical suffering he endured, the survivor said, in reverse, that the danger he represented to others was what gave him the chills.

After unknowingly contracting the disease at his sister’s graduation, where a highly contagious guest was returning from abroad, he attended a major techno event in Las Vegas.

“I shook hundreds of hands every day. I wasn’t contagious yet, but I can’t help thinking how many people I would have infected if the ‘timing’ had been slightly different.”


“Measles seems like something out of a bygone era and no longer on our radar, so we think there’s nothing there,” said Dr. Paul Offit, who heads the Vaccine Information Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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Photo: courtesy CNN Josh Nerius