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Health department issues alert after uptick in measles cases in Minnesota

Measles cases on the rise in Minnesota
Measles cases on the rise in Minnesota 00:30

MINNEAPOLIS -- Health officials in Minnesota say they've identified 13 cases of measles this summer in several different families with unvaccinated children.

The figure is much higher than the number of cases the state sees in a normal year. Typically, the state sees one to four cases of measles each year.

All 13 cases were identified in the Twin Cities area, in children ranging from 2 years old to their early teens. All but one of the cases involved children that had a history of travel to a country where measles is common and circulating. Seven of them were hospitalized.

Health officials say that the recent uptick in cases could indicate that measles is spreading in the community. They've asked health care providers to watch out for signs in their patients.

"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 Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield.

During the pandemic, Minnesota saw a 3% drop in school-age immunizations.

"Even a small drop in the immunization coverage rate means there are thousands more children who could be vulnerable to disease because they are not vaccinated," Jennifer Heath with the health department said.

The overall risk to the public is considered low. The best way to prevent measles is through vaccination. The virus was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but it still is common in other parts of the world.

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