Afghan refugees in Nevada await medical exams and vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week asked health care providers to be on alert for cases of measles and other infectious diseases among evacuees from Afghanistan.

Clinicians were asked to notify their local health district or state health department if they suspected a case of measles. The most recent case in Clark County was reported in 2018, said Stephanie Bethel of the Southern Nevada Health District.

The Clark County Health District informed local doctors of the CDC’s advice through its email notification system earlier this week.

“We are making our doctors aware of the very low but potential risk of measles or perhaps other infectious diseases that could occur in people arriving from Afghanistan,” said Dr Cortland Lohff, chief medical officer of the health district.

The CDC said this week it is demanding that evacuees from Afghanistan who have arrived in the United States be vaccinated against measles and quarantined for 21 days at military bases and other shelters, after some were found to be infected. by the highly contagious virus. Some evacuees had already relocated before measles cases were identified and the vaccination campaign began.

There have been at least 16 cases of measles and four cases of mumps among Afghan nationals and US citizens recently evacuated from Afghanistan to the United States, the CDC said.

A representative of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, an agency helping with the relocation of evacuees, said no Afghan evacuees have been relocated here yet.

Nevada is expected to receive 150 evacuees, 50 in southern Nevada and 100 in northern Nevada, as part of the federal Afghan placement and assistance program.

Lohff said the health district will conduct health checks and provide all necessary vaccines once the evacuees arrive.

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease, infecting nine out of ten people who are exposed to it through close contact if they are not immune to a vaccination or a previous infection.

In 2000, measles was declared eliminated from the United States. However, travelers continue to bring measles into the country, where it poses a risk to unvaccinated people.

Lohff said the risk of a measles outbreak in Clark County is low.

“We have pretty good population-level immunity to measles,” either through vaccination or, in older people, past infection, he said.

The CDC said there had also been cases of chickenpox, mumps, tuberculosis, malaria, leishmaniasis, hepatitis A and COVID-19 among the evacuees.

“Although the incidence of COVID-19 in this population has been particularly low, vaccination and COVID testing are provided to all evacuees,” the agency said.

Contact Mary Hynes at [email protected] or 702-383-0336. To follow @ MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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