Health officials confirm two measles cases in Henpen County siblings

News release
June 14, 2022

Contact information

Reducing vaccination levels during the pandemic raises concerns that more children are at risk

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is working closely with Henpen County Public Health and health care providers to investigate two confirmed cases of measles in children who are siblings and live in Henin County.

The two children developed symptoms shortly after returning from a visit to a country where measles is common. Both tested positive for measles. Preschool children have not been vaccinated, and one has been hospitalized due to complications from measles. MDH, Henpein County Public Health staff, hospital and clinic staff are working to inform people who may have been exposed. The risk to the general public from these cases is low. The children were isolated when symptoms began, so exposure was limited to health care and family conditions.

MDH has informed state health care providers to be vigilant for patients with signs or symptoms of measles. If additional cases of measles develop as a result of these cases, they are likely to occur between now and July 1, health officials said.

Initial symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by a rash that usually spreads from the head to the rest of the body. It usually takes eight to 12 days of exposure to a person with measles to develop the first symptom, which is usually fever. The measles rash usually appears two to three days after the onset of the fever. Measles can be a serious illness that can lead to hospitalization and even death. If you have measles symptoms, call your doctor or clinic and they will let you know if you need to come for a visit.

Every case of measles is a concern for health professionals. Measles is easily spread by coughing, talking, or staying in the same room with someone who has measles. However, some Minnesota communities continue to have low levels of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination. In addition, vaccination levels against MMR, along with other childhood diseases, declined during the pandemic. Health officials are worried that some children may be more vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases than they were two years ago, especially after many people start traveling again.

According to the latest data, the percentage of 2-year-olds who received at least one dose of MMR vaccine up to 24 months has decreased from 81.4% in 2019 to 79.3% in 2021. More details on these data can be found in Minnesota Public Health Data Access Portal: Immunizations.

“This case underscores the importance of vaccination for diseases such as measles that can be prevented with vaccines,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Linfield. “Vaccines are extremely effective in preventing measles. It is important that we work to restore immunization levels to where they should be, so that all children in Minnesota are protected.

Minnesota has four cases of measles after a major outbreak in 2017. Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, but is still common in other parts of the world. In a typical Minnesota year, there are one to four cases of measles, usually in people traveling to countries where measles is more common.

“We need to maintain high levels of vaccination in the United States to make sure measles doesn’t return to Minnesota,” said Margaret Roddy, MDH’s vaccine preventable disease manager. “As long as there are measles somewhere in the world and people are traveling, the risk to Minnesota remains. The measles vaccine is safe and effective. Without it, the risk of disease is real. “

The best way to prevent measles is through vaccination. Children should receive two doses of MMR vaccine: the first at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at 4 to 6 years of age. Children 6 to 12 months of age should receive an early dose of MMR vaccine if traveling to a country where measles is common. It is important for all ages to talk to your doctor if you are planning to travel to another country. Your doctor can check that you and your family are informed about your immunizations and make sure that there are no other immunizations you need.

MDH encourages people to check their records to confirm that they and their children have received the MMR vaccine. Minnesota residents can request their vaccination records by visiting the Find My Immunization Record.

For more information, visit the MDH measles website.

-MDH-


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH communications
651-201-4993

[email protected]

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