Minn. health officials confirm another measles case

In this photo illustration, vials of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are displayed on a counter at a Walgreens Pharmacy on Jan. 26, 2015 in Mill Valley, Calif. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Minnesota has confirmed a third case of measles in the last six weeks.

It's a worrisome trend for state health officials, who are urging people to get vaccines in order to prevent an outbreak like the one that happened last year.

"All three cases have been associated with travel," said Cynthia Kenyon, the supervisor for the vaccine-preventable disease surveillance unit at the Minnesota Department of Health. "I think it's important for people to remember if they are going to be traveling to make sure they are up to date on their vaccines. Especially with young children, especially those children under the ages of 1, to talk to their health care providers because they might actually recommend an early dose of the MMR to make sure that those children are protected."

The most recent measles case was in a 2-year-old Ramsey County child who recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, according to the state health department. The child had been partially vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella, and was likely infectious between Sept. 6 and 14.

The department has also told health care providers in the metro area to be on alert for patients who show signs or symptoms of measles — including high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by rash.

Measles spreads easily, through coughing, sneezing or even being in the same room as someone with the virus.

Kenyon urged international travelers, no matter where they are going, to double check their vaccine history before they travel.

"We really are seeing outbreaks of measles worldwide," she said. "We are seeing quite a bit in Europe, we're seeing it in parts of Eastern Europe, in some of the African counties and then also in South America."

Kenyon said last year's outbreak is believed to have started after someone traveled abroad and brought a case back.

Over the span of 42 days in the summer of 2017, 79 people were sickened by the virus.

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