The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is notifying healthcare providers in the state to be on the look-out for patients with signs or symptoms of measles, after two confirmed cases have been reported in Hennepin County.
MDH is working with Hennepin County Public Health and healthcare providers to investigate two confirmed cases of measles in children.
The two siblings developed symptoms shortly after visiting a country where measles is common. The preschool-aged children were not vaccinated, and one was hospitalized due to measles complications. The children were isolated when symptoms started, so exposures were limited to healthcare and family settings.
If additional measles cases develop as a result of these cases, they will likely occur between now and July 1, health officials said.
Any case of measles causes concern for health officials. Measles spreads easily by coughing, talking, or being in the same room with someone who has the disease. Yet some communities in Minnesota continue to have low vaccination rates for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). In addition, vaccination rates for MMR, along with other childhood diseases, declined during the pandemic. Health officials are concerned that some children may be more vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases than they were two years ago, especially because many people are beginning to travel again.
According to recent data, the percentage of 2-year-olds who had received at least one dose of MMR vaccine by 24 months declined from 81.4% in 2019 to 79.3% in 2021. More details on this data can be found on the Minnesota Public Health Data Access Portal: Immunizations.
“This case emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated for diseases, such as measles, which can be prevented with vaccines,” said Ruth Lynfield, MD, state epidemiologist. “Vaccines are extremely effective for preventing measles. It’s important that we work on getting our immunization rates back up to where they need to be so that all children in Minnesota are protected.”
Minnesota has had four cases of measles since a major outbreak in 2017. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but it is still common in other parts of the world. In a typical year, Minnesota sees one to four cases of measles, generally in people who traveled to countries where measles is more common.
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 should get an early dose of MMR vaccine if they are traveling to a country where measles is common.
For more information, visit the MDH measles website.