Sunday, October 16, 2016

Measles Outbreak in Amish Community

Last week, the NEJM published a research study that looked into a measles outbreak in an Amish community in Ohio that occurred in 2014. This measles outbreak was one of the largest outbreaks that has occurred in the United States in the last 20 years. Technically, measles was eliminated in the US in 2000 but cases show up here and there because people go to infected areas in other countries and return with the disease unknowingly. The origin of this Amish outbreak traces back to two unvaccinated Amish men who traveled to the Philippines in 2014 to help with the typhoon relief. After coming home, the men developed symptoms like a fever and a cough and were initially diagnosed with dengue. It wasn’t until 12 other individuals within the Amish community developed rash and febrile symptoms that measles became the apparent disease and not dengue.
 The outbreak ended up resulting in 383 confirmed cases and 380 of those infected were Amish. In response to this outbreak, there was an increased amount of surveillance by local health officials as well as meetings between the health departments and bishops to increase the spread of knowledge to the individuals. There were 120 free vaccination clinic sessions that took place and they ended up giving over 12,000 doses of MMR. This outbreak luckily was maintained and ended after four month. This incident reinforces the importance of vaccination within communities. With this study, the data showed that control of the outbreak was highly correlated with the increase in vaccines administered. However, this outbreak also highlighted the importance of cultural beliefs and medicine and the difficulty that can arise when trying to both respect the beliefs while also trying to maintain the health of a community.

--Jeanette Rios

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