Religious Leaders, Health Care Officials Work to Control Measles Outbreak

June 05, 2017 04:02 PM

With another three weeks of Ramadan and the holy week's gatherings, religious leaders are stepping up efforts with health care workers to control Minnesota's measles outbreak which has hit the Muslim Somali community the hardest.

RELATED: Number of Diagnosed Measles Cases Rises to 73 in State

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Children's Minnesota's Elham Ashkar says imams in their position of power can help spread the word that vaccination is in the best interest of the community. False information suggesting the measles vaccine can cause autism has driven down immunization rates in the Somali community.

RELATED: Measles Total Increases by 2 Even as Health Officials See Slowdown

Minnesota Public Radio says Children's Minnesota has given Somali community leaders pictures of some of the children in the hospital suffering from measles, hoping they will provide a powerful incentive to vaccinate. Minnesota has had more measles cases in the past two months than the entire country had all last year.

According to numbers on the Minnesota Department of Health website, the total number of cases diagnosed in the state during the current outbreak has now risen to 73. Sixty-three of those cases have come in the Somali Minnesotan community.

RELATED: Measles Total Drops By 1 in Minnesota

Sixty-six of those cases have come in Hennepin County, three have come in Ramsey County, four have come in Crow Wing County and two have come in Le Sueur County.

Sixty-nine of those cases have come in individuals who have been confirmed to have been unvaccinated. Three individuals had one dose of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccination. Three had two doses.

Seventy-two of the cases have come in children between the ages of 0 and 17. Three have come in adults.

In addition to the 63 cases in the Somali Minnesotan community, nine cases have come in individuals whose race/ethnicity is described as White/Non-Hispanic. Three have come in individuals whose race/ethnicity was described as White/Hispanic.

The current outbreak is the worst in Minnesota since 1990 when 460 cases were diagnosed, leading to three fatalities.

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AP

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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