The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires measles and quarantine vaccinations for 21 days after Afghan refugees are found to have a highly contagious virus when they arrive in the country this month.
As of Monday, the CDC reported 16 cases of measles (up from 6 cases confirmed late last week by the White House) and mumps among Afghan refugees and Americans who fled Afghanistan in recent weeks. He said he knew four cases. According to the CDC, evacuees at US military bases in the United States and abroad will have to wait three weeks after receiving the MMR vaccine to prevent measles, mumps and rubella before the vaccine becomes effective.
Officials urged a mass vaccination campaign on Monday, stating that some Afghan evacuees “leaved the base before a case of measles was identified.” New information came in a special recommendation issued by the agency to doctors nationwide to warn against cases of measles and other infectious diseases among evacuees from Afghanistan.
According to the advisory, the CDC “also recognizes some cases” of tuberculosis, chickenpox, malaria, leishmaniasis, hepatitis A, and Covid-19 in evacuees. Evacuees warned that they were also at high risk for gastrointestinal infections such as dysentery, giardiasis and cryptosporidium.
On Friday, President Biden signed an executive order to add measles to the list of infectious diseases that may require quarantine.
The CDC is vaccinated by only 60% of people living in Afghanistan, is ranked 7th in the world for measles cases, and evacuees live in densely populated areas during the evacuation process. He said he expects measles infections to spread to evacuees.
Measles was declared excluded from the United States in 2000. This means that the disease is no longer endemic, but travelers continue to bring it to the United States and pose an ongoing risk to unvaccinated people.
According to the CDC, people who have been vaccinated against measles are usually fully protected in a few weeks. In the United States, 13 cases of measles vaccination were confirmed in 2020, and in 2019, 1,282 cases, which was the largest outbreak in the United States, were confirmed. The disease is especially dangerous for unvaccinated children, pregnant women and newborns.
Flights carrying Afghan refugees to the United States have been suspended since earlier this month when several passengers were found to be infected with measles.
Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban in a chaotic evacuation this summer are waiting for resettlement in the United States. Most of them have been waiting at military bases for weeks, whether or not they need vaccination, and can stay for months while waiting for resettlement.
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Most of the evacuees arriving in the United States have flown to Dulles International Airport in Virginia, and the state has declared measles outbreaks in the north and central regions associated with them. Local outbreaks of measles have not been identified, according to the Virginia Department of Health website, and authorities believe the risk to the general public is low.
The CDC urged doctors to be aware of measles cases in communities near military bases containing evacuees, such as Virginia Marine Bases Quantico, Fort Lee, and Fort Pickett. Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Fort Bliss, Texas. New Jersey Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst; Camp Atterbury, Indiana.
The measles virus inhabits the nose and throat of infected people and is highly contagious. According to the CDC, about 9 out of 10 people in close contact and unprotected are infected.