The Fort McCoy Army Base in Wisconsin where hundreds of Afghan refugees are waiting to be granted formal entry to the U.S. has detected a case of the measles. Afghan refugees are being held at the base as they go through security screenings and background checks before they are allowed to resettle into the community. An internal government email confirmed the case of the measles on Sunday.
"All those who had been in contact with the infected person at base have been isolated, and post-exposure prophylaxis and inoculations are in process," a notice obtained by Fox News read. A senior U.S. government official also confirmed that the case of measles in an Afghan refugee was identified through what was called a "robust health screening process."
Afghanistan is the seventh country in the world that has the highest number of measles cases globally.
The notice said that because measles is contagious by nature, the Wisconsin military base will no longer be receiving evacuees "at this time" as it was working to procure the needed vaccines to fight the disease. However, a Task Force McCoy spokesperson said that the base was still accepting Afghans, as it can accommodate up to 13,000 of them.
The spokesperson, who was not named, said that "the health of the Afghans at Fort McCoy is a top priority" and that the refugees are provided with medical screening and immunizations if needed.
According to the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory, Division of Viral Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), measles or rubeola is a "highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person" that can be "spread to others through coughing and sneezing."
It is very contagious because up to 90% of people who are not immune and who have been in contact with the patient with measles will get infected. Its symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes.
The disease poses a serious risk for all age groups but children younger than five and adults older than 20, as well as pregnant women and persons who are immunocompromised are also at a higher risk of developing complications from the disease.
The news of the measles case in the Wisconsin military base comes just days after more health and security concerns were raised over the sheer number of Afghan refugees being accepted into the U.S. The International Business Times reported that health concerns were raised over the fact that the thousands of Afghans who flew into the U.S. were not even tested for COVID before leaving Afghanistan.
In fact, up to six Afghan refugees tested positive for COVID in the flight from Kabul to the Dulles in Virginia that arrived on August 29.
Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Ron Kind, who toured the Wisconsin military base told CBS 58 that there were a "couple" of Afghan refugees who tested positive for COVID. Congressman Mark Pocan said that officials informed him about how all but one Afghan refugee got vaccinated against COVID.