Report: Measles Outbreak in Minnesota Somali Community Imported by Traveler from Foreign Country

characteristics of measles CDC
Centers for Disease Control

The measles outbreak within Minnesota’s Somali community continues to spread to more parts of the state. “Officials . . .  believe it was imported by a traveler from a foreign country, since measles no longer occurs naturally in the United States,” the Star Tribune reports.

Late Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced that the total number of cases has now grown to 32, and “28 of the cases are Somali Minnesotan.”

The MDH has not yet announced the demographic characteristics of the other four cases that have been diagnosed as part of the outbreak.

The geographic reach of the outbreak has now extended from Hennepin County, part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area—where it originated and where 30 of the cases have now been confirmed—to Stearns County, 65 miles northwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul, where one case was confirmed early last week, and now to Ramsey County, were onw case was confirmed on Friday. “31 of the cases are confirmed to be unvaccinated and 1 of the cases had 1 MMR,” MDH said late Friday.

“The cases are children ages 0 through 5 years,” MDH added.

“Fears of the MMR vaccine have taken hold within the Somali community, particularly after 2008, when many parents became concerned about what seemed to be a cluster of autism cases among Somali students in the Minneapolis schools. Measles vaccination rates among young Somali children have fallen sharply since, providing fertile ground for an outbreak to develop,” the Star Tribune reports.

“Officials are still trying to identify the source, but believe it was imported by a traveler from a foreign country, since measles no longer occurs naturally in the United States,” the Star Tribune adds.

Democrats in Minnesota are not asking the most obvious questions that this statement raises:

Did the traveler from a foreign country who may have “imported” measles to the Somali community in Minnesota arrive from Somalia?

If so, would these travelers have been prevented from arriving in the United States had federal district judges in Washington, Maryland, and Hawaii not struck down President Trump’s Executive Orders 13769 and 13780, both of which imposed temporary travel bans on residents of Somalia to the United States?

The state of Minnesota, led by Attorney General Lori Swanson and Governor Mark Dayton, both Democrats, joined the state of Washington as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Executive Order 13769, which was subsequently halted by a federal judge in Washington state in February.

“The state of Minnesota is suing the Trump administration over the president’s executive order that temporarily bans refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States,” the Star Tribune reported in February:

Earlier in the week, Washington became the first state to file a lawsuit against the administration. The amended complaint, which now includes Minnesota, was filed Wednesday night in U.S. District Court in Seattle. It alleges that the Trump administration’s executive order violates the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection clause, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as due process. The states also seek a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of the travel ban at airports across the U.S.

The recent outbreak has set a 20-year record high for the number of measles cases reported in Minnesota.

Between 1997, when MDH began tracking reported cases of measles on its website, and 2016, the record number of reported cases of measles in the state was 26, which happened in 2011.

The current number of reported cases of measles at the four-month mark of 2017, 32, is already six cases more than that 2011 previous record.

Over the 20-year period between 1997 and 2016, a total of 56 measles cases were reported, slightly less than three cases per year.

The current outbreak, which may continue to grow, has, in effect, re-introduced the disease—long dormant—to Minnesota.

“Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to the largest Somali community in the United States, estimated to be around 70,000,” Breitbart News reported on Friday:

“Since FY 2002, 100,246 Somali refugees have resettled in the United States, according to the State Department’s interactive website. Of these, 99.9 percent, or 99,909, are Muslim,” Breitbart News reported in December.

Assimilation of resettled Somalis in this country has been a significant problem, and continues to be so.

In 2016, two Somali refugees, one in a Minnesota mall, the other at Ohio State University, attacked and injured more than 20 Americans. Both refugees were killed by law enforcement during the attacks.

Somali immigrants to Minnesota have been resistant to having their children immunized against measles with the MMR vaccine, the MDH has acknowledged.

That resistance highlights just one of several public health practices in which the Somali community has a troublesome record.

“On the public health front, Somali refugees in Minnesota have been identified as responsible for 22 percent (161 out of 732) of the cases of active tuberculosis (TB) diagnosed between 2010 and 2014, despite accounting for about one percent of the state’s population,” Breitbart News reported, “Recently, female genital mutilation (FGM) within the American Somali community has come to the forefront as a significant problem as well. Earlier this month, two doctors and another person were arrested in Livonia, Michigan on charges of conducting illegal FGM procedures on young Somali girls transported from Minnesota.”


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