A new report investigating a recent 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:
An unvaccinated Somali-American 2-year-old 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 in the tight-knit Twin Cities Somali community were exposed to the disease.
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.
See our health issues category with more on measles, autism and other health issues in the US immigrant/refugee population.