An outbreak of measles is sweeping through a community of Somali refugees in Minnesota and the growing number of cases may be starting to test the limits of the Hennepin County healthcare system.
According to reports from the health commissioner’s office, there are now 30 cases of children in Hennepin County who have been diagnosed with measles, and 28 of them are Somali children who have not been vaccinated. All of the cases involve children 5 years of age and younger.
There have been 10 new cases of measles reported in Hennepin County in just the last four days.
What’s worse, the outbreak has now spread to Ramsey and Stearns counties, where two more cases have now been reported, making a total of 32 cases in Minnesota as of 1:30 p.m. Friday.
The first Minnesota case was reported in March and has been steadily growing each week.
It is the worst measles outbreak in Hennepin County, which includes the city of Minneapolis, since 2011, when 26 cases were reported. That outbreak also involved unvaccinated Somali children.
“Eleven of the 30 children have been hospitalized,” Doug Schultz, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health, told WND.
He said he did not know how many of those cases have required intensive-care treatment.
“But it wouldn’t surprise me if there were some,” he said.
WND received unconfirmed reports Friday that pediatric cancer treatments at Children’s Hospital Minneapolis were postponed Thursday due to the presence of measles patients at the hospital.
The parents of the cancer patients either “opted out” of their treatments when they were told of the measles outbreak, or had their treatments postponed, a healthcare worker told WND.
Asked if any other Hennepin County healthcare services were being affected by the measles outbreak, Schultz said he could not answer that.
“That’s a good question. I think probably I’m not the best one to speak to that,” he said.
He referred WND to Khris Ehresmann, the infectious disease division director at the Minnesota Health Department. She did not immediately respond to WND’s inquiry Friday.
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Last week Ehresmann told the Star-Tribune the state’s health laboratory is testing additional samples for measles and she expected the case count would rise.
“Whenever you have an outbreak in unvaccinated kids, measles just has a field day,” Ehresmann said. “That is what is happening here.”
“This outbreak is about unvaccinated children, not specific communities,” Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Minnesota Somali community has been targeted with misinformation about vaccine risks. We’re partnering with Somali community…