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March 1962

Measles Epidemics in Greenland

Author Affiliations

Viggo Bech, M.D., Chief Health Officer, Godthaab, Greenland.

Am J Dis Child. 1962;103(3):252-253. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1962.02080020264013

Greenland, which is part of the Danish Monarchy, is a mountainous country of which about 86% is covered by the icecap. Only the land close to the sea is populated, and that only very sparsely. In most cases, the distance from one settlement to another is a boat trip of several hours' duration. The number of inhabitants in the various settlements ranges from less than 100 up to a few thousand. Today, the total population is about 30,000 individuals.

Until 1951 the population of Greenland had escaped measles, a fact which is mainly due to the previously slow communications between Greenland and the surrounding world.

In April, 1951, however, measles was transferred from Copenhagen, Denmark, to the quite large communities in southwestern Greenland by a Greenlandic seaman, who, prior to his departure from Copenhagen, had been in contact with a person in the prodromal phase of measles. Unfortunately, in the

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