US measles outbreak linked to growing Somali community in U.S.

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Measles, a disease that no longer occurs naturally in the United States, has now occurred 32 times here, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).  Officials are calling it an outbreak.

On their website, the MDH lists the following facts:

  • 30 of the cases are in Hennepin County, 1 of the cases is in Stearns County, 1 of the cases is in Ramsey County.
  • 31 of the cases are confirmed to be unvaccinated and 1 of the cases had 1 MMR.
  • The cases are children ages 0 through 5 years.
  • 28 of the cases are Somali Minnesotan.

Hennepin County is part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan region.  The measles outbreak originated there before moving into the other two counties.

According to a report by the Star Tribune,  “Fears of the MMR vaccine have taken hold within the Somali community.”

After concerns over autism were voiced in 2008, there was “a cluster of autism cases” in Somali students. Since then, measles vaccination rates have fallen in that community, providing an opening for the outbreak.

“Officials are still trying to identify the source, but believe it was imported by a traveler from a foreign country,” adds Star Tribune.

A Breitbart article suggests that Democrats in Minnesota should be focused on answering whether the individuals who may have “imported” measles to the U.S. came from Somalia.  They write:

If so, would these travelers have been prevented from arriving in the United States had federal district judges in Washington, Maryland, and Hawaii not struck down President Trump’s Executive Orders 13769 and 13780, both of which imposed temporary travel bans on residents of Somalia to the United States?

Minnesota’s Attorney General Lori Swanson and Governor Mark Dayton, both Democrats, signed Minnesota up as a plaintiffs with the state of Washington in the lawsuit against Trump’s Executive Order 13769.  In February, the Executive Order was successfully halted by a federal judge in Washington.

This outbreak marks a 20-year high for Minnesota in the number of measles cases reported, surpassing the record set in all 12 months of 2011.  In that year, 26 cases were reported.  In 2017, there are now 32 cases in only the first four months.

Between 1997 and 2016, there were only 56 measles cases reported, or about three cases per year.

According to Breitbart, “Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to the largest Somali community in the United States, estimated to be around 70,000.” They report that 100,246 Somali refugees have resettled in the United States since 2002, with approximately 99,909 being Muslim.

measles vaccineIn a news release on April 24, the MDH said “health officials are asking parents and health care providers to watch for potential cases and help make sure as many Minnesota children as possible are protected through vaccination.”  They say that measles is a serious disease that can lead to death and that it spreads easily among unvaccinated people.  They urge all children 12 months and older, as well as adults, to be vaccinated.

“MDH also recommends that all Somali Minnesotan children statewide who have already received their first dose of MMR vaccine get their second dose now,” the statement says.

“This is about unvaccinated children, not specific communities,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said. “There are people of all backgrounds around the state who have chosen not to protect themselves or their children. Often that decision is based on good intentions and inaccurate information. It’s the responsibility of all of us who care about the health of Minnesota children to make sure people have accurate information and take action to protect their families and their communities.”

While the MDH is urging everyone to get their vaccinations, there is a push to get the message into the Somali community.

In addition to Somali immigrants in Minnesota being affected most by this outbreak, Breitbart reports they may be responsible for 161 out of 732 cases of active tuberculosis (TB) diagnosed between 2010 and 2014.  As well, “female genital mutilation (FGM) within the American Somali community has come to the forefront as a significant problem as well. Earlier this month, two doctors and another person were arrested in Livonia, Michigan on charges of conducting illegal FGM procedures on young Somali girls transported from Minnesota.”

H/T: Breitbart

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