MINNEAPOLIS, March 19 (UPI) -- Health officials in Minnesota say they're battling an outbreak of measles that is spreading, especially in the Somalian community.
Heath experts said they been warning people for years that measles could make a comeback if families stopped vaccinating their children, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
The illness had sickened six children and five new cases, three among Somali children, have been reported.
"Unless we keep the vaccination rate high, we will turn the clock back and have these outbreaks," said state epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield.
Until the recent outbreak, just six cases of measles were confirmed in Minnesota since 2005.
Health experts believe the outbreak may have begun with a Minneapolis-born child infected during a trip to Africa, where the disease is widespread.
Minneapolis pediatrician Dr. Osman Harare said many Somali parents were concerned because the vaccination has been erroneously connected with autism.
"We need to do some big campaign … to tell the people the vaccine doesn't have any link with autism," Osman said.
Measles is a dangerous disease, affecting 10 million people, and killing nearly 200,000 people annually, the report said.