Officials: Measles outbreak caused by anti-vaccination campaign

There has been a recent measles outbreak in Minnesota, and now authorities know the reason behind it.

A group of Somali-Americans, mostly children, have been diagnosed with the disease. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released a report that said the vast majority, 55 out of 58 cases, were unvaccinated.

Kristen Ehresmann, director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control at MDH, spoke to Live Science about why so many Somali-Americans were anti-vaccinated. In 2008, children were reported to be in special education in higher numbers than other demographics; this caught the attention of the anti-vaccination movement, which falsely links vaccines to autism.

"They have been very aggressive in taking advantage of concerns about autism in this community," Ehresmann told Live Science. "Before 2008, Somali immunization rates [in Minnesota] were at or above the rate in the rest of [the] state. Starting in 2008, we saw a dramatic decline — now we're at 41 percent."

Measles was announced eliminated from the Americans in 2016 by the Pan American Health Organization. According to the WHO, though, there have been outbreaks this year due to lack of immunization.

Ehresmann said the Somali-American community is starting to push back against anti-vaccination. "Physicians and other health care leaders in the community are speaking out, which makes a big difference," she told Live Science. "We're really seeing the community step up and take action."

See photos of the recent outbreak

6 PHOTOS
Minnesota measles outbreak
See Gallery
Minnesota measles outbreak
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL, 28: Lydia Fulton, LPN, administers the MMR vaccine to a child at Children's Primary Care Clinic in Minneapolis, MN, Friday April 28, 2017. Children's has set up a triage center at the clinic to pre-screen patients and ensure proper handling of suspect measles cases. (Photo by Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post)
HOPKINS, MN - APRIL, 27: Suaado Salah comforts her son Luqman, 3, at their apartment in Hopkins, Minn., Thursday April 27, 2017. Luqman and his 18-month-old sister got the measles during the current outbreak in Minneapolis and are now fully healing at home. Brother Abdullahi, 5, left, did not get sick and has now been vaccinated. Salah had previously refused the MMR shot for them because of rumors that it caused autism. She has since changed her mind and is upset that the connection is still being touted by anti-vaxxers. (Photo by Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post)
HOPKINS, MN - APRIL, 27: Suaado Salah, right, shares pasta with her son Luqman, 3, at their apartment in Hopkins, Minn., Thursday April 27, 2017. Luqman and his younger sister got the measles during the current outbreak in Minneapolis and are now recovering at home. Brother Abdullahi, 5, center, did not get sick because he received one dose of the vaccine in January. Salah had previously refused for the children to receive the MMR shot because she had heard that it caused autism. She has since changed her mind and is upset that the connection is still being touted by anti-vaxxers. (Photo by Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post)
HOPKINS, MN - APRIL, 27: Abdullahi Mohamud, 5, stands by the sliding glass door in his family's apartment in Hopkins, Minn., Thursday April 27, 2017. Though two of his siblings contracted the measles during the current outbreak in Minneapolis and are now recovering at home, he received one dose of the vaccine in January and did not get sick. The children must wait until May 7, when the incubation period is over, to return to school. (Photo by Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post)
HOPKINS, MN - APRIL, 27: Tahlil Wehlie, left, speaks with his son Luqman, 3, at their apartment in Hopkins, Minn., Thursday April 27, 2017. Luqman and his sister got the measles during the current outbreak in Minneapolis and are now recovering at home. Wehlie's wife had made the decision to forego the shot for her youngest children because she had heard it could cause autism. She has since changed her mind and believes it is important for children to be vaccinated. (Photo by Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.