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Measles outbreak in Somali American community follows anti-vaccine talks

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 16 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2378
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

The US state of Minnesota is facing its largest measles outbreak in nearly 30 years, with 58 cases reported over the past month, including 14 admissions. All but three of the cases occurred in unvaccinated children under 10, mostly in the 32 000 strong Somali American community around Minneapolis.

The community’s child vaccination rates for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) have plummeted from 92% in 2004 to 42% in 2014, amid fears that its children have unusually high rates of autism.

These concerns have attracted the attention of anti-vaccine activists, including the disgraced former UK gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, who held at least two meetings with Somali community groups in Minnesota in 2010-11, when their vaccination uptake was falling quickly.

Efforts by anti-vaccine activists continued even during the outbreak. On 30 April, Mark Blaxill, founder of the anti-vaccine Canary Party, addressed a crowd of roughly 90 parents …

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