Minnesota's measles outbreak continues to grow

The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed a new case of measles, bringing the total number of cases to fourteen.

Thirteen of the cases have been linked to an infection originating in Africa from when a Somali child visited Kenya, Minnesota Public Radio reports. Since the child returned to Minnesota, there have been eight measles-related hospitalizations and no deaths. One of the measles cases was contracted in Florida.

Many of the cases occurred in people who were unvaccinated, including a few patients who were too young to be vaccinated.

“Unless we keep the vaccination rate high, we will turn the clock back and have these outbreaks,” Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the Minnesota state epidemiologist, said, the Star Tribune reports. “Measles vaccine is extremely effective. I think we need to remember that we have these very effective tools for a reason, because the diseases can be really severe. I think the best advice is to be sure that your children are up to date on their measles vaccine.”

Local physicians like Dr. Osman Harare, a Minnesota pediatrician, have said that Somali parents are afraid of the measles vaccine due to concerns about the potential risk of autism.

“We need to do some big tell the people the vaccine doesn’t have any link with autism,” Osman said, according to the Star Tribune.