By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Wisconsin state health officials, local officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed 22 cases of measles in Wisconsin, all in people currently living at Fort McCoy in Monroe County with recent history of travel from Afghanistan as part of the United States government’s emergency evacuation efforts.
“From the very beginning, we have welcomed Afghan allies to Wisconsin. We will continue to support federal and local partners in their ongoing efforts to contain the spread of measles and ensure those who have been evacuated from their home communities are receiving the medical care they need in order to be healthy and well-protected,” said Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “The hardships Afghan evacuees have endured in the past year are truly unimaginable, and I ask that we all practice compassion, and respect people’s privacy and culture as the resettlement process continues.”
Most Wisconsinites are vaccinated against measles as children, which provides lifetime immunity. However, people who have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a person with measles can spread the virus to others in the community, leading to outbreaks. Staff or visitors who are unvaccinated and who have been to Fort McCoy between September and October may be at increased risk for measles.
“Vaccination is essential to stopping the spread of measles,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer for the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases. “We ask all Wisconsinites to check their measles vaccination status and talk to your health care provider about getting yourself or your child vaccinated if it’s still needed.”
People diagnosed with measles at Fort McCoy have ranged in age from 4 months to 26 years old, and 14 (64%) have required treatment at area hospitals.
There are currently zero known, active measles cases at Fort McCoy. The risk of measles transmission in the surrounding communities is considered to be low at this time.