Measles, polio concerns as Bible Belt takes in Ukrainian refugees
Public health institute RIVM asked reformatory organizations in the Bible Belt that take in Ukrainian refugees to be extra alert to symptoms of measles and polio. Measles is most common in Ukraine of all European countries, and the country also had a few cases of polio last year. The country's vaccination rate is also relatively low, and so is the vaccination rate in the Bible Belt, Nieuwsuur reports.
Many Reformed people in the Bible Belt signed up to help Ukrainian refugees. "That's great, but we also know that many people in the Bible Belt have not been vaccinated," Jeanne-Marie Hament, head of the RIVM's National Immunization Policy, said to the program. "If you put that together, you get a large group of unvaccinated people. If there is a case of disease, it will spread quickly."
The RIVM sent the reformatory organizations a letter asking them to be alert to signs of infectious diseases rarely seen in the Netherlands, mentioning measles and polio specifically. Polio doesn't present with symptoms in 90 to 95 percent of cases, so the RIVM intensified its sewer research in the Bible Belt to identify any outbreaks as quickly as possible. Measles is a particular concern due to how infectious it is. The low vaccination rate combined with Ukrainian refugees spending a lot of time together in small spaces like air raid shelters increases the risk of an outbreak.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization and UNICEF warned of a major resurgence of measles. The number of reported measles infections worldwide increased by almost 80 percent in the first two months of the year.