Ninth measles case reported in Minnesota

The number of reported cases of measles in Minnesota has grown to nine, with all of the reported cases within Hennepin County, leading county health officials to schedule measles vaccination clinics in local hospitals.  

Four of the nine cases have been among children who are too young to be vaccinated and four more have been in children who were not vaccinated, according to Minnesota Public Radio. Public health officials have said that so far, attendance has been poor at the measles vaccination clinics.

"We were really trying to target the Somali community in particular and addressed our ads and have not been effective in getting our message out," Allain Hankey, an epidemiologist with the Hennepin County public health department, said, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

Five of the nine measles cases have been from the Somali community. Some Somalis fear that vaccinations are linked to autism, though local pediatrician Ruth Lynfield said that this connection has been debunked. Other Minnesotans refuse to have their children exposed to the foreign proteins present in vaccinations.

"The reality is their children are exposed to lots of foreign substances every day," Lynfield said, according to Minnesota Public Radio. "The reason we use vaccines is they are a safe way of exposing the child to something that is similar to the infectious agent, so that if the child does get exposed to the infectious agent they now have a stronger response to it."

Measles had mostly been contained in the area due to widespread immunity among residents of the state.

"Unfortunately this time around it came in a population that did not have a high amount of immunity," Lynfield said, according to Minnesota Public Radio. "There was the opportunity for the measles virus to circulate and cause more infections. It is very, very contagious."