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With 2 New Minn, Measles Cases, Officials Urge Vaccination

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A second child in a month has been diagnosed with measles in Minnesota. Neither child was vaccinated.

Public health officials warned the failure to vaccinate creates a major risk to the public.

The two cases involving the children, ages 2 and 5, are not related. Both apparently contracted the disease in Africa before returning to Minnesota.

"Measles is the most infectious disease that we have," said Nurse Patsy Sinchfield, senior director of infection control at Children's Minnesota, were both young patients are being treated. "Those people who have not been vaccinated and are exposed to somebody with measles have a 90-percent chance of getting measles."

(credit: CBS)

The hospital was ground zero for last year's outbreak, when more than 70 people contracted measles. Many of the patients were children from Minnesota's Somali American community, where vaccinations have been eyed with suspicion. Statistics from 2014 show that while 90 percent of Minnesota 2 year olds have been vaccinated, that figure was about 40 percent in the Somali community.

Public health officials say one of the biggest misconceptions about measles is that it is just a rash that can make patients uncomfortable. In fact, it can be deadly.

"Those who survive it can have deafness, blindness, they can have an infection in their brain that over time can take their life away," Sinchfield said.

The measles vaccine known as MMR is administered twice when children are 1, and then again when they are 5. Stinchfield says there is a disturbing trend of people of all ethnic backgrounds choosing to delay vaccines. With measles, the consequences can be devastating.

"It's a very, very serious disease," Sinchfield said.

She says, on average, one person with measles infects up to 18 others.

The first child who got measles is no longer contagious. The second child is being monitored, and will no longer be contagious in a little over two weeks.

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