Measles outbreak among Afghans traveling to the US

The United States detected four cases of measles among tens of thousands of Afghan refugees and suspended flights bringing them to the country for a week.

Karine Jean-Pierre, deputy spokeswoman for the White House, said on September 13 that flights carrying Afghan refugees to the United States would be suspended for at least a week after medical staff discovered at least four people from This Central Asian country has measles.

“Afghan nationals diagnosed with measles are being isolated in accordance with public health guidelines. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has implemented contact tracing,” deputy spokesman Jean-Pierre said. speak.

US soldiers inspect an Afghan woman at Hadmid Karzai airport on August 28.  Photo: USMC.

US soldiers inspect an Afghan woman at Hadmid Karzai airport on August 28. Photo: USMC.

Measles virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through coughing or sneezing. Measles outbreaks used to be frequent with high mortality rates, but are no longer widespread thanks to vaccination programs. The US CDC in 2000 declared the country to have eradicated measles.

Jean-Pierre said tens of thousands of Afghan refugees staying at US military bases are being vaccinated with important vaccines, including the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. “We will give the Afghans the MMR vaccine before they go to the US,” Jean-Pierre said.

The United States stipulates that measles vaccination is a condition for those entering the country within the framework of the Welcome Allied Campaign to enter the country.

It is not clear how many Afghans have been housed at US and allied military bases after a two-week air evacuation campaign in late August. The US is expected to take in 65,000 Afghan refugees by the end of this month.

The CDC says people can get measles if they breathe in contaminated air, or touch a contaminated surface and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Before the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, the US CDC recorded about half a million new measles virus infections each year. The measles vaccine helped reduce the number of cases for decades, until the disease was declared extinct in the United States in 2000.

However, an increasing number of American parents in the past 10 years have refused to vaccinate their children, leading to a resurgence of measles outbreaks. In 2019, the US recorded hundreds of cases of measles, a jump from many years ago.

Nguyen Tien (Follow CNBC)

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