Anti-vaccine groups step up work as Minnesota measles outbreak rages

Click here to view the original article.

[If they were only harming themselves you could at least say this was evolution in action. Outbreak tally in the state now exceeds the total cases in the US last year. Further reading: Unraveling the history of the vaccine-autism scare. *RON*]

Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 2 June 2017

Enlarge / HOPKINS, MN - APRIL, 27: Abdullahi Mohamud, 5, awaits returning to school after two of his siblings contracted the measles during the current outbreak. He received one dose of the vaccine in January and did not get sick. Getty | Courtney Perry246
After years of being the target of anti-vaccine groups, a vulnerable Somali immigrant community in Minnesota is now fighting a raging measles outbreak. It’s the worst outbreak in the state in nearly 30 years, and this year’s totals now exceed the total number of measles cases reported in the entire country in 2016.
Nevertheless, anti-vaccine groups have stepped up their effort to spread frightening falsehoods and dangerous misinformation about vaccines and measles, the Washington Post reports. In a recent forum, an anti-vaccine advocate handed out fliers that falsely alleged that safe and life-saving vaccines cause permanent brain damage and death.

Health professionals and religious leaders are uniting to fight back, promoting life-saving vaccinations and accurate health information during this holy month of Ramadan. They fear that with the religious festivities and gatherings, the outbreak will continue to boom. Health experts already estimate that 8,250 people have been exposed in daycares, hospitals, and schools.

As of June 1, there were 73 confirmed cases, at least 50 of which were treated at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Twenty were admitted. Some of the children being treated have mouths so sore they can’t drink or swallow, leading to severe dehydration and requiring days of treatment. Last year, there were only 70 measles cases reported in the entire US.
In the past, the Somali community had some of the highest vaccination rates in the state. But with deep-seated fears of autism and a—now debunked—rumor that autism rates were rising in their community, many fell victim to the misinformation spread by local and national anti-vaccination advocates. Those include notorious anti-vaccine advocate Andrew Wakefield, a fraudulent former physician stripped of his medical credentials for falsifying data, abusing children, and other professional misconduct.

Health experts did not shy away from pinpointing the local problem: “It’s white, middle-class parents who have made a decision not to vaccinate and feel very strongly about that choice,” Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease epidemiology at the Minnesota Department of Health, told the Post.

In encouraging signs, vaccination rates have rebounded amid the outbreak. Statewide, the rate of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine jumped from about 2,700 per week to as many as 9,700. In the Somali community, child vaccination rates went from about 30 a week to as high as 500 between April and May.

Health officials are also encouraged by the participation of local religious leaders. A group of 30 imams and mosque executives are working with local clinicians and health experts on the issue.

One of those, Sharif Mohamed, who has been the imam of his mosque in Minneapolis for nearly 20 years, told the Post that they have a good chance of succeeding. “I think we will at least reduce the attack from the groups with anti-vaccine message,” he said. “They had a very loud voice. But they didn’t get a group of strong imams. We will have impact.”

Comments

Popular Posts

Kinder Morgan's $771,000 donation to B.C. Liberals raises red flags while Premier shifts to damage control

Does Even Mark Zuckerberg Know What Facebook Is?

The Pharma Jerk We All Hated Last Month Still Hasn’t Dropped the Price of That Drug