Measles Matter Again

Mother+and+daugther+wearing+measles+precautionary+masks+at+Plymouth+partners+in+pediatrics.+Photo+by+Maya+Cherne.
Mother and daugther wearing measles precautionary masks at Plymouth partners in pediatrics. Photo by Maya Cherne.

Mother and daugther wearing measles precautionary masks at Plymouth partners in pediatrics. Photo by Maya Cherne.

Mother and daugther wearing measles precautionary masks at Plymouth partners in pediatrics. Photo by Maya Cherne.

Maya Cherne, Guest Writer

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  According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 55 Minnesotans have been diagnosed with measles in recent months. 49 of those affected are Somali-Americans.
  According to the Mayo Clinic, measles can be serious and even fatal for small children. The disease kills approximately 100,000 people a year worldwide, most under 5 years of age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported one measles death in the US in the past 20 years.
  Dr. Hannah Wilhelm said, “The most common ages for the measles are between one and five. The majority of the outbreak is in Minneapolis. We are boosting the vaccinations because we usually do it at four but now we are boosting earlier.”
  According to Wilhelm, the disease is especially contagious
because it will linger in the air for up to two hours. Medical clinics are prominently displaying warning signs as well as requiring all visitors to wear masks because of this measles scare.
  According to the CDC, the disease’s symptoms usually appear after 14 days of infection. These symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, a skin rash and red watery eyes.
  A retracted and discredited study in 1997 linked vaccines to autism. Years of research and debate have not replicated any link, but anti-vaccination activists still press the case. Anti-vaccination activists made numerous presentations to Somali-Americans in Minnesota, which contributed to the current
outbreak according to the Star-Tribune. 

A nurse checks daily appointments next to measles PSA poster at Plymouth partners in pediatrics. Photo by Maya Cherne.

  According to the Minnesota Department of Health 57 out of the 66 Minnesota cases cases occurred in Somali-Americans.
  Wilhelm said, “a large group of the infected are from the
Somali Minnesotan community because it’s my understanding that there is no diagnosed autism in Somalia. There are groups out there increasing the ‘fear of autism’ in America.”
  Researchers and doctors believe that an increase in autism
diagnoses has resulted not from use of certain preservatives in vaccines but from increased awareness of autism by doctors and parents.
  According to Wilhelm, there is still confusion over whether
vaccines can cause autism but there are hundreds of studies that disprove that myth.
  Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of Infectious Diseases, said, “[There was] essentially 8 children who had autism within a month of receiving MMR (a vaccination). That was it. I mean you frankly could have published a paper claiming that peanut
butter sandwiches caused leukemia because you had 8 children who recently for the first time in their life ate peanut butter sandwiches and then developed leukemia.”
  “That’s why we vaccinate, to prevent life threatening diseases,” said Children’s Hospital Nurse Practitioner Patsy Stinchfield.

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