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NAIROBI, 7 April 2011 (IRIN) – The cause of a measles outbreak in Somalia has yet to be determined but doctors say initial suspicions point to “unfounded rumours” that the vaccine could cause HIV/AIDS in children and interfere with their reproductive abilities.

“There are false rumours creating fear among parents that the vaccination causes HIV/AIDS and can affect a child’s reproductive system,” said Ismail Isse Roble, head of the Bari Medical Association in Bosasso, capital of Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

Roble said most of the children brought to his clinic had not been vaccinated.

“The irony is that most of the affected children are those whose parents can afford medical care,” he said. “Children in IDP [internally displaced persons] camps [in Bosasso] are least affected because they took advantage of the free vaccinations provided.”

According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO) Somalia, 83 cases, including five deaths, were reported in Mogadishu in the past five weeks. Some 127 cases were reported in Puntland, WHO said.

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