Measles outbreak in Minnesota among the Somali population
by Dee McLachlan
“These are the facts: Vaccines don’t cause autism. Measles can kill. And lying to vulnerable people about the health and safety of their children ought to be a hanging offense.” Boston Herald 8 May, 2017
An article by the editorial staff of the Boston Herald concluded that those lying about the safety of vaccines to immigrant populations should be hanged. Quite extraordinary!
The article was a commentary on the Somali community in Minnesota loosing faith in vaccinations — with the vaccination rate falling from 92% to 42% over a decade.
Why the Somali Community Lost Faith
Back in 2009, and updated in 2012, Marina Jimenez wrote in the Globe and Mail an article entitled, “The Somali Autism Puzzle” — about a Somali mother in Toronto. It featured Idar Hassan, who had immigrated in 1991 and called her third child Ali.
“Beautiful and alert, Ali could say “dada” and cruise around the living room, hanging onto furniture, by the time he was eight months old. But a few months later… ‘It was like everything went black. The switch went off’ …[and] Ali was diagnosed with autism.
“Ali’s parents had never come across this condition back home in Kismayo, a city where children run in the streets and everyone knows everyone else’s business. ‘In Somalia, we had kids with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. But nobody had ever heard of autism…’
“In the past decade, Ms. Hassan, an articulate, elegant woman… has met more than 30 Somali families in Toronto with one or more autistic children… The condition [autism], which Somalis call the ‘western disease’ or the ‘disease from abroad,’ appears to have struck their community with a particular vengeance.
“…higher-than-expected rate of autism among the children of Somali immigrants has been identified in two cities with large Somali communities: the Swedish capital of Stockholm, and Minneapolis, Minn.”
The odds on a roulette wheel are 1:37. It is difficult to imagine how bad these odds really are.
One in Thirty Two
A study by the University of Minnesota, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the research and advocacy group Autism Speaks — reported high rates of autism: One in every thirty two (1:32) Somali children and 1:36 for white children in Minneapolis — compared to a national average of 1:88 (2012). As autism is skewed towards young boys, the statistic is even more shocking — 1 in every 20 Somali will be diagnosed with ASD.
Minnesota has, allegedly, the biggest Somali population outside of East Africa. Anne Harrington, an early childhood special education coordinator for the Minneapolis district, is a specialist on the topic. She says:
“[In Somali children] It is the more classic forms of autism in general. It is the more severe forms of autism that we’re seeing in our Somali babies that are born here…
“If they’re having more children, many of the siblings also have autism. We have a number of [Somali] families who have two children on the autism spectrum and sometimes more… it feels like this is too specific [to Somalis].”
But the Boston Herald “Hanging” article does not want anyone to question the safety of vaccines. It seems they don’t want people to be informed when their kids (from Africa) get loaded with vaccines. They focus on:
“The disgraced British doctor who once reported a link between vaccines and autism — which was deemed fraudulent and cost him his medical license — has met with families…”
The Independent writes that anti-vaccine activists sparked US state’s worst measles outbreak in decades. They write:
“A 2014-2015 measles outbreak infected 147 people in seven states and spread to Mexico and Canada.”
But let us look at numbers then.
How many people live with an autism spectrum disorder in America? 3,500,000 — according to Buescher et al., 2014. One in every 68 people.
Four Corners reported in 2012:
“Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the fastest growing developmental condition in the western world… Fifty years ago it was considered rare, affecting one in 10,000 children. Now the number of children being diagnosed with ASD in the United States is one in 90. The incidence is also rising dramatically in Australia.
“To add to this troubling picture… there’s evidence that ASD rates are much higher in some immigrant populations. So much so that ASD has become known as ‘the Western disease’.”
(In 2014 CNN reported it to be 1:68 — a 30% increase over a two year period.)
A commenter on the Boston Herald article writes:
“…One known risk factor for catching measles is a deficiency in vitamin A, and research has found that a higher percentage of children of African descent are deficient in this vitamin.
“…Dr. Andrew Wakefied, who has been vilified and made the scapegoat for the entire “anti-vaccine” movement, did not “link vaccines with autism”… Wakefield merely reported what most of the parents told him, which is that their children’s autistic symptoms began shortly after they were given the MMR vaccine. Dr. Wakefield was not anti-vaccine, in fact he strongly advocated for vaccination against measles… [that it is] safer to give separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines rather than the combined MMR shot. Right after he made this recommendation, the UK decided to make the individual vaccines unavailable.”