ST. PAUL, Minn. – Health officials say a Hennepin County child has been diagnosed with a case of measles.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says the five-year-old got sick in early August, shortly after returning from traveling to a region outside the United States where measles is common. Officials believe the child could have spread the disease between July 30 and August 7. People who may have been exposed to the child are being notified.
The Department of Health says the child was not vaccinated against measles and wound up hospitalized. If additional cases of measles develop because of this, they are expected to show up before August 28.
Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 but persists in other parts of the world. Last year, Minnesota saw its biggest measles outbreak since 1991. 75 cases were identified between April and August 2017. 91 percent of those cases involved people who were not vaccinated and 21 individuals were hospitalized.
“Stopping the 2017 measles outbreak did not eliminate our risk for another outbreak,” said MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann. “We still have pockets of our population with low vaccination rates, so as long as there is measles somewhere in the world, the risk to Minnesota remains. That’s why it is so important to make sure you and your family are vaccinated.”
Doctors say measles symptoms 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. It generally takes 8 to 12 days from exposure to the first symptom, which is usually fever. The measles rash usually appears two to three days after the fever begins. The disease is highly contagious and spreads easily by coughing, sneezing or even being in the same room with someone who has measles.
Though rare, health officials say cases of the measles can not only lead to hospitalization but death.
The Minnesota Department of Health says 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 are also recommended to get an early dose of MMR vaccine if they are traveling to a country where measles is common.