Recent Measles Outbreak Linked to Past Anti-Vaccine Efforts
According to health officials in Minnesota, a recent outbreak of measles—which has affected dozens, mostly children under the age of 17—can be traced to an anti-vaccine campaign targeting Somali-Americans. While the Minnesota Department of Health reported just 56 cases of measles from 1997 to 2016, so far in 2017, there have been 54 confirmed cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that measles is highly contagious—up to 90 percent of unvaccinated individuals will contract the disease if exposed to the virus. The current outbreak in Minnesota has been traced back to 2008 when local news organizations reported Somali-American children accessed special needs services at a higher rate than other ethnicities. This spurred concerns about a possible link between the measles vaccine and an increased risk for autism spectrum disorders—a false theory that has been disproven by study after study—and led to a decline in vaccination rates in Somali-American children.
Last year, the Pan American Health Organization declared measles “eliminated” from the Americas. However, although the disease no longer originates in the United States, it can spread from other areas of the world to people who have not been vaccinated. The concern is especially high in some areas of Europe where vaccination rates are low.
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