Third Minnesota measles case prompts warning about international travel

September 17, 2018

State health officials have identified a third case of measles in a child who brought the disease back from overseas, prompting them to encourage parents to get measles shots before visiting other countries.

The newest case, the third since early August, was identified late last week by the Minnesota Department of Health. It struck a 24-month old child who recently returned from a trip to the Middle East.

The child, who lives in Ramsey County but was not otherwise identified, was partly vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), but lacked the full protection provided by the recommended dose of two shots.

Local public health staff, as well as clinic and hospital staff where the child was treated, are notifying people who may have been exposed when the child was infectious between Sep. 6 and Sep. 14.

The other cases, which involved travel to Africa in unvaccinated children, are not related and did not touch off a wider outbreak.

Measles is surging in many world regions, where unlike the United States, it continues to circulate freely.

Although most Americans are vaccinated, people without vaccine protection or natural immunity are susceptible to catching the highly-contagious disease.

“As we’ve said before, measles, like a number of other vaccine-preventable diseases, is just a plane ride away,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for the Health Department. “That’s why it’s so important for both adults and children to be up-to-date on the recommended vaccines before they travel.”

The risk also extends to those in the United States who come in contact with someone infected by measles in another country. That is what sparked last year’s outbreak in Minnesota, which sickened 75.

“Keeping vaccination rates high is the best way to protect our communities because measles can spread before we even know it is here,” Ehresmann said.

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 should get an early dose of MMR vaccine if they are traveling to a country where measles is common.

Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192

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