Police in Arizona forced their way into a home with guns drawn to remove an unvaccinated toddler with a high fever, amid mounting concern over falling immunisation rates in the US.
Officers in Chandler, south-east of Phoenix, broke down the door of the family home after Sarah Beck and Brooks Bryce, the child’s parents, refused to let police and a child safety official enter. The couple’s three children have since been taken into care.
The couple said they took their feverish two-year-old son Heber to a naturopath clinic and were told he had a temperature of 105F (40.5C).
Doctors directed the parents to take the toddler, who has not been vaccinated, to hospital but Ms Beck decided not to because the child’s fever later fell 102F (38C).
However, when the clinic learned the child never went to the hospital it alerted the authorities, fearing he had a life-threatening illness.
It comes as public health officials call for tighter regulations around vaccines, warning the number of US children who have not had any vaccines has quadrupled since 2001. Five states have reported outbreaks of measles this year.
An investigator spoke to the doctor and contacted officers, according to the police report. The police said officers arrived at the family home but were refused entry.
Mr Bryce told a local TV station: “They said ‘Brooks, you have to come out of your house right now… We have to check on them’ and I said ‘He’s doing fine, his temperature is 100. He’s safe, he’s asleep, could you please just leave us alone’.”
Mr Bryce’s surveillance footage, shared with US media, showed the officers – who had a warrant – proceeded to break down the door.
“Guns drawn, flashlights shining on me… they saw me and asked me to put my hands up,” said Mr Bryce, who was handcuffed while police searched the home.
When officers entered the house, the report continued, they found more that two more children, aged four and six, were suffering from similar symptoms.