The measles outbreak in Hennepin County is now up to 12 confirmed cases. Most are in Minneapolis, but there are some cases in the suburbs, including one in Plymouth.
Hennepin County public health officials have already confirmed that hundreds of people in the Twin Cities have been exposed to measles, but many have been vaccinated and have nothing to worry about. However, the county is still trying to find 30 or more families to see if they came in contact with one of the 12 individuals who have the contagious illness.
"If we're not able to find them within three to six days, people who have not been vaccinated need to be socially isolated," said Dave Johnson with the Hennepin County Public Health Department. "Meaning that they can't go to daycare, they couldn't go to school, they couldn't go to work for a period of 21 days after they have been exposed to measles."
Measles symptoms begin with a fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by a rash. Experts say you can be contagious before a rash that covers the body shows up. If you're exposed and not vaccinated, you would be asked to remain in voluntary exclusion.
All of the reported cases have been kids who are 5 years old or younger. The outbreak is confined to the Somali community, where vaccinations are not common and sometimes discouraged. The county wants people to know that it's not too late to vaccinate.
"We know it's safe," Johnson said. "There has been some misinformation in the community about a link between the measles vaccine and autism. That has been completely debunked by science. We really want to focus right now on people getting their vaccines and being fully immunized."
If you think someone in your family has measles don't go to the doctor's office because you could expose others in the waiting room. Health officials say to call ahead to your clinic and they will set up another time to visit.
The last large measles outbreak in Minnesota was six years ago when there were 26 cases.
Eric Nelson, email@example.com