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US Pauses Flights For Afghanistan Evacuees To Fort McCoy, Other Bases Over Measles Cases

1 Of 6 Confirmed Cases Among Afghan Evacuees Is At Fort McCoy; Officials Working To Vaccinate All Evacuees Against Disease

A decorative sign made with tan stone says "U.S. Army, Fort McCoy"
Fort McCoy on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, between Sparta and Tomah, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Federal officials have stopped bringing Afghan evacuees to Fort McCoy and other domestic military bases after identifying several cases of measles.

A senior United States government official told reporters Tuesday there have been six diagnosed cases of the measles among Afghans who have arrived in the U.S.

The official said they were already watching for measles before the first case was reported because there is a high level of measles transmission in Afghanistan.

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“When the first confirmed case came back, we took measures to stop the flights. This helped us then be able to contact trace, to put measures in place to isolate individuals,” the official said during the briefing.

The paused flights are from bases overseas where Afghans are being vetted.

One of the confirmed cases was at Fort McCoy in western Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports no other evacuees have been diagnosed with the measles and there are around 12,500 people living at the base.

The senior government official told reporters they are working to “aggressively” vaccinate all evacuees against the measles, which is a required vaccine for immigrants to the U.S. Officials expect to have everyone vaccinated by the end of the weekend.

The official said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance on how long the affected evacuees will need to quarantine, and local CDC teams are stationed at each military base to help with disease surveillance.