Five new measles cases have been reported in Minnesota, totaling eight cases in the cases. The cases were reported in Hennepin County.

On September 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Americas as the first region in the world to be measles-free, so the new outbreak is believed to be linked to foreign travel.

The outbreak is almost entirely related to the Somali-Americans in Hennepin County, as seven of the eight children affected come from the area. All affected kids were unvaccinated against measles.

Measles Outbreak in the US
People from Bay State may have been infected with measles due to European tourists. Credit: NBC News

Measles outbreak in Minnesota affected Somali-American community

The Minnesota Department of Health released a statement on Friday, in which they explained how the affected children ranged in age from 1 to 4 and that seven of the concerned children came from the Somali-American community. They did not disclose information regarding the eighth patient.

“This outbreak is about unvaccinated children, not specific communities,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger, according to StarTribune. “Unfortunately, the Minnesota Somali community has been targeted with misinformation about vaccine risks.”

Ehlinger added that the Minnesota Department of Health is partnering up with the Somali community leaders and health care providers to counteract misinformation regarding the outbreak.

Seven of the eight cases occurred in children who had been in contact with one another, and six of the affected children have been hospitalized. Kris Ehresmann, infectious-disease division director of the state Health Department, said that the department is working with the Somali-American community to alert people. The committee noted that local and public health authorities are investigating how the children became infected with the disease to recommend protective actions.

Measles outbreak in minnesota
The Americas region was thought to be free of endemic measles, yet five new measles cases have been reported in Minnesota. Photo credit: CDC

Measles can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis

According to WHO, measles is a highly contagious illness that mostly affects children, and that can be spread through airborne droplets and direct contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat.

Measles was reportedly eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, and WHO declared it officially measles free on September 27, 2016. The announcement meant that all local measles cases had been eradicated, but imported cases could still cause isolated outbreaks.

Measles was the fifth vaccine-preventable disease eradicated in the Americas, joining smallpox, polio, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome. The measles vaccine has been in the market since 1963, but the virus proved to be hard to eliminate. WHO’s announcement included all countries in the continent, from Canada to Chile.

Before the invention of the vaccine, measles killed over 2.6 million children worldwide every year. However, there are still many unvaccinated children in the world, and even in 2016, the disease claimed over 115,000 lives.

Measles symptoms include rashes and white spots inside the cheeks, high fever, persistent cough and runny nose. The disease is known to cause complications, such as ear infections and diarrhea. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that one out of 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death from measles in young children. They add that one out of 1,000 children with measles develops encephalitis (swelling of the

They add that one out of 1,000 children with measles develops encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and that for every 1,000 children with measles, one or two will die from the disease.

Baby, measles
An Australian nine-month-old baby boy who contracted measles in September 2016. Image credit: Thinkstock.

Vaccination is the only viable method to prevent measles

The CDC has reported that between January 1 and March 25 of this year 28 people have been diagnosed with measles. The affected people are from different states: Colorado, California, Florida, Nebraska, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Utah, and Washington.

Washtenaw County, Michigan, reported two of those cases. One adult and one child are affected with measles, and it was said that the adult contracted the disease from the child while the two shared an international flight. They are not related to each other.

Health officials urged population to get their measles vaccine if they haven’t received it yet.

“As long as everything goes in the usual public health prevention and investigation control measures, then I would not anticipate an outbreak, but we do depend on people keeping their immunizations up to date,” said Dr. Eden Wells from the Department Health and Human Services in Michigan, according to Tech Times.

In 2016, 70 people from 16 different states contracted measles, and in 2015, 188 people from 24 different states got measles, most of them linked to an outbreak that occurred at a California amusement park. In 2014, 667 measles cases were reported in the United States, marking the highest rate since 2000.

According to the CDC, measles is still widespread in many parts of the world, including countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific. CDC estimates that over 20 million people contract measles every year, and over 146,000 dies. They recommend that anyone traveling from the United States to another country should get the measles vaccine or make sure they’re up to date with the immunization. Infants can receive their first dose at six months old, CDC notes. Doctors and health care providers recommend vaccination as the only viable method to prevent measles.

Source: Tech Times