Minnesota measles outbreak nears 70 cases; Ramadan could facilitate spread

Minnesota health officials have yet to contain the measles outbreak that started in April, and 69 people have been infected as of Friday. Now, officials fear Ramadan festivities could help the virus spread more quickly.


Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, starts Saturday and is marked by prayer and fasting from dawn until dusk. Public health officials are worried group gatherings associated with the holy month will facilitate the spread of measles, especially among the already hard-hit Somali Muslim community, according to the Post Bulletin.

Of the 69 confirmed cases, 58 are Somali Minnesotan, according to Minnesota Department of Health data.

"Parents who have unvaccinated children exposed, we've told them to keep their children home from school, gatherings and large events," said Lynn Bahta, from the Minnesota Department of Health, according to the Post Bulletin. "This can be complicated during Ramadan."

Imam Sharif Mohamed may even offer masks at his mosque in Minneapolis in an attempt to quell the spread of measles. "It's good for us as religious leaders to encourage them to not come during Ramadan if they're sick," he said.

Measles spreads easily from person to person through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the CDC. Additionally, the virus can live in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours.

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