CDC warns Afghan refugees pose threat of 'larger imminent outbreaks' of measles in U.S.

Six confirmed, 17 suspected cases is a "major public health threat" and "has the potential to seed countless U.S. community outbreaks," CDC chief warns in private letter obtained by Just the News.

Published: September 15, 2021 11:11am

Updated: September 16, 2021 9:37am

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sent a private warning to the chief of Afghan evacuation operations that measles is spreading among refugees and poses a "major public health threat" that includes the potential for "larger imminent outbreaks" in U.S. communities already reeling from the coronavirus.

CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky's memo Tuesday night urged Operations Allies Welcome senior official Robert Fenton to take "urgent public health action" that includes mass vaccinations of refugees, revealing there are now six confirmed cases of measles in Afghan refugees, 17 suspected cases and hundreds of exposures in U.S. hospitals.

"The large number of unvaccinated Afghan evacuees as seen already has the potential to seed countless U.S. community outbreaks," Walensky warned in the four-page memo obtained by Just the News.

"These outbreaks represent a major public health threat and rapid mass vaccination and expanding quarantine and isolation capacities are essential," she stressed.

You can read the memo here:

She also wrote the current cases are "an indicator of potentially much larger imminent outbreaks" that could already overwhelm hospitals fighting the deadly surge of the Delta coronavirus variant.

"Immediate implementation of CDC public health standards is imperative to prevent introduction of measles into US communities and to respond to multiple concurrent measles outbreaks," Walensky wrote.

She added, "Health care facilities are already at limited capacity as they battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which requires tremendous workforce in laboratory assets."

Measles was declared eradicated from America decades ago after an aggressive vaccine campaign, and its reintroduction to U.S. communities could prove deadly to those it infects who aren't vaccinated, officials warn.

Walensky's memo used stark language to describe the consequences if the outbreaks aren't thwarted soon through quarantine and vaccination campaigns.

"Failing to swiftly execute the measures outlined above will likely result in increased exposure to evacuees and personnel supporting OAW operations, including safe havens," she wrote. "Further, evacuates who have not been vaccinated (41% of children under five years old are not currently protected against measles) pose a public health threat."

The imminent fears of large outbreaks comes less than a week after the first measles case was detected in an Afghan refugee patient at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. 

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News