Minnesota measles outbreak traced to unvaccinated ‘Patient Zero’ - BringMeTheNews.com
A recent report investigating a measles outbreak in Minnesota offers a new window into how the disease can be spread by just one unvaccinated person.
Here’s how the 2011 outbreak, which sickened 19 children and two adults in Minnesota, happened, according to the report in the medical journal Pediatrics, titled, “An Outbreak of Measles in an Undervaccinated Community.”
An unvaccinated Somali-American 2-year-old, who some have dubbed “Patient Zero,” traveled with his parents to Kenya, where he contracted the measles virus.
When the family returned to Minnesota, the child showed symptoms, including a fever, cough and vomiting.
But before he was diagnosed as having measles, the child had already passed the virus on to three other children at his daycare center, and another household member, CBS News reports.
Ultimately, more than 3,000 people in the tight-knit Twin Cities Somali community were exposed to the disease.
Nine of the children who were ultimately infected were old enough to have received the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine but had not gotten it.
Patient Zero’s parents had not vaccinated their child over fears stemming from misinformation that vaccines are dangerous, officials say.
Minnesota Department of Health researchers say that is typical in the Somali immigrant community, where MMR vaccination rates remain low, CBS News reports.
In 2004, the number of Somali children in the state who were on schedule with their MMR topped 90 percent.
“By 2010, that was down to just 54 percent,” epidemiologist Pam Gahr, who led the new research, told CBS.
She says the steep drop in vaccinations stems from misinformation about a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
The belief that vaccines are linked to autism or other diseases has been debunked by scientific studies.
Experts have confirmed that children must be vaccinated against preventable and potentially deadly diseases, CNN reports.
Unvaccinated people, the studies show, are highly vulnerable to dangerous and deadly diseases – long eradicated in the U.S. – when the diseases are brought back into the country by unvaccinated travelers.
Health officials say disease outbreaks like the one sparked by little Patient Zero and others that are ongoing across the U.S. are a stark reminder that more education is needed to convince parents to vaccinate their children on schedule.
U.S. measles cases are at a 20-year high this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of May 30, the agency had received reports of 334 measles cases in 18 states.
Nearly all of the outbreaks involved unvaccinated people who brought measles back after a trip overseas, the CDC said.
“The thing is, we have the power to prevent it,” Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, told CBS.
In the case of the Minnesota outbreak, he added, “the first infection that spread in the community was misinformation. The second was measles.”