Health officials concerned by increase in measles cases in Minnesota

(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is urging parents to make sure their children are up to date on immunizations after an increase in measles cases in the state.

MDH says they are working with local public health agencies and health care providers to investigate 13 cases of measles that occurred from June through September.

All of the cases are in the Twin Cities and are among several different families with unvaccinated children who had a history of travel to a country where measles is common and circulating.

The children have been as young as 2-years-old to children in their teens, and just over a third are pre-teen. 7 children were hospitalized for measles treatment.

Most of the children involved were isolated when symptoms started, so exposures were limited to health care and family settings.

Minnesota’s 13 cases are several times greater than the 4 cases the state sees in a typical year, according to MDH.

Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but it is still common in other parts of the world and are generally in people who travel to countries where measles is more common.

“The measles virus is highly contagious and very successful at finding people who are unvaccinated, even within groups of people who may be vaccinated,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, State Epidemiologist. “Measles can be a very serious disease, causing hospitalizations and sometimes death. That’s why it’s so important to maintain high vaccination rates for measles.”

Lynfield goes on to say that the overall risk to the general public is low, because most Minnesotans are vaccinated for measles through routine immunizations required for school attendance.

Measles spreads easily by coughing, talking, or being in the same room with someone who has measles. Initial symptoms of measles include a high fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes followed by a rash that typically spreads from the head to the rest of the body.

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