Measles cases delay Hare Krishna lunches

Gainesville Sun, Florida/May 8, 2007
By Diane Chun

The Hare Krishna Student Center will resume serving lunches on the University of Florida campus May 23, a group spokesperson said Tuesday.

A recent outbreak in measles in Alachua County has been linked to the Krishna community in Alachua. Three students - one at UF and two at Santa Fe Community College - who have come down with measles have ties to that community, which numbers more than 800.

The lunch program ended with the UF semester April 25. Classes will resume at the university the week of May 14.

A statement on the Krishna House Web pages states that the UF student who came down with measles is not involved with preparing or serving Krishna lunch.

"Over the past month he has only eaten it occasionally and attended one Krishna House program," the statement reads.

Alachua County Health Director Tom Belcuore emphasized Tuesday that measles is not a foodborne illness, but is spread by person-to-person contact.

"This is a highly infectious illness," Belcuore said. "If you have one case, the average number of people who will be infected is 12; in the case of influenza, the average number of people who are infected is two."

"Our priority is the safety and well-being of the UF community," said Kalakantha Dasa, director of the Krishna student center. "If that means taking an extra week to be absolutely certain that we're doing all we can to help, it's the right thing to do."

Kalakantha emphasized that is nothing in the doctrine of the Krishna religion that objects to vaccination. The decision is left up to the individual, he said.

"Most choose to get vaccinated. Some do not. We respect their right to make that choice, but it really has nothing to do with religion," Kalakantha said.

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