The largest Somali community in the United States is being threatened by a recent outbreak of measles which now joins active tuberculosis as a public health problem among Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, residents.
“During the five years between 2010 and 2014, 732 cases of active TB were diagnosed in Minnesota. Of these, 81 percent, or 593, were foreign-born. Of foreign-born cases, 50 percent, or 296, were refugees, according to “The Epidemiology of Tuberculosis in Minnesota, 2010-2014,” a report published by the Minnesota Department of Health,” Breitbart News noted in October.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, “Twenty-nine percent of the 593 foreign-born cases of active TB diagnosed in Minnesota [between 2012 and 2015], or 161, were attributed to Somali-born migrants. Almost all Somali migrants to the United States have arrived under the federal refugee resettlement program.”
Last week, the Star Tribune reported: “The Hennepin County measles outbreak grew to 20 cases Monday, after eight new infections were confirmed. State health officials said all the cases have occurred within the Somali-American community, and they urged parents to get the measles vaccine for themselves and their children if they are unvaccinated.”
Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director at the Minnesota Health Department, says that many more cases are expected in the current outbreak and the number could exceed the 26 cases reported in the 2011 outbreak.
Exposure in the recent outbreak has occurred at several daycare centers, with all of the individuals contracting measles being five years old or younger.
The first measles case was detected two weeks ago and has left health investigators scrambling to identify any unvaccinated person who has been exposed to the highly contagious virus.
A Star Tribune report revealed that “[i]nvestigators have examined the vaccination records of 16 of those infected, and none of them had received the MMR shot. Records for the other four are still being collected.”
“According to a health department official, Minnesota’s Somali immigrant community has been a particular target of the anti-vaccination movement, colloquially known as ‘anti-vaxxers,’” Mic.com reported last week.
“They’re very much engaged with and targeting this community,” Ehresmann said in a phone interview Wednesday. She asserted that anti-vaccine advocates have been disseminating misinformation linking autism to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Symptoms of the measles virus include coughing, sore throat, fever and skin rash. Infection can result in pneumonia and encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, and can be fatal.
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