Minnesota is having a tough time dealing with the increasing number of measles cases. The disease is primarily affecting young children who are not vaccinated.
On April 14, Minnesota health officials recorded an additional five cases of measles affecting children in the Hennepin County, taking the total to eight.
According to a new report, health officials confirmed a ninth case of measles in Hennepin County. It is expected that the number will increase significantly in the near future.
Measles, which was reportedly eradicated from the United States in 2000, has seen a significant increase in the country over the past few years.
Measles Outbreak: Source And Main Reason
Most of the affected children belong to the Twin Cities Somali-American community and have not received proper vaccination in the past. According to reports, the infected children are aged between one to four years.
"Whenever you have an outbreak in unvaccinated kids, measles just has a field day. That is what is happening here," says Kris Ehresmann, director of the infectious disease division at the Minnesota Health Department.
According to Ehresmann, nearly 42 percent children in the Somali-American community received their first MMR shot at the age of two. However, according to health officials, MMR shots must be administered when a child is one.
A second MMR shot provides a child with higher immunity and must be given when he or she is entering the kindergarten phase. MMR vaccination is given to protect children from measles, rubella, and mumps.
Since 2011, where 26 infection cases were registered, this is the largest outbreak of measles in Minnesota.
Currently, the source of the latest outbreak has not been identified. However, reports suggest that tourists from other nations may have been the main carriers of the disease as it does not occur naturally in the United States anymore.
The Somali-American area of the state has been susceptible to measles because of the low vaccination rates. In 2011, an anti-vaccine advocate discouraged the community members that MMR was responsible for causing autism. However, scientific research has discredited this notion.
How Many Children Have Been Hospitalized?
According to Patsy Stinchfield, the senior director of infection control, the first case of measles was identified at the Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota. The physicians at the hospital initially thought that the child was suffering from an antibiotic-triggered skin reaction.
The Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota recorded five reported measles cases. These children were hospitalized and discharged soon after. Another three cases of possible measles infection are currently undergoing tests and the children have been hospitalized.
However, none of the reported cases have required the support of the hospital's intensive care unit.
Steps Being Taken To Counter Measles
In 2015, nearly 134,000 deaths due to measles were reported worldwide. Presently, many public health officials in Minnesota are interacting with the families of the affected children to ascertain the possible infection source.
Moreover, officials from local health departments are educating schools, clinics, and nearby Somali-American population about the symptoms of measles. They are also educating people on the importance of an MMR vaccination.