In our continuous monitoring of the measles outbreak in Hennepin County, Minnesota, state health officials reported three additional confirmed cases today, bringing the total to 24.
All the cases are reported in children under five and 23 of the cases were unvaccinated (Vaccination status of the remaining case has yet to be verified).
All of the cases are among Somali Minnesotans and this not the first time Minnesota Somalis were the center of a measles outbreak in the state.
In 2011, Minnesota reported a total of 26 measles cases. Twenty-one of the cases (19 children and two adults) were part of an outbreak traced back to an unvaccinated Somali child. Of the 26 cases that year, eight were Somalis. Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the United States, estimated to number 25,000 to 40,000 in 2014.
In a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine looked at Somali parents perceptions with vaccine. The study found that Somali parents are more likely to believe that the MMR vaccine causes autism and more likely to refuse the MMR vaccine than non-Somali parents.
Of Somali parents, 22% indicated that they refused the vaccine. An internal review of 90 Smiley’s Clinic charts conducted in 2011 indicated that 71% of Somali children aged 18 to 36 months received the MMR vaccine compared with 94% of non-Somali children. 2011 data from Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is located, found that only 57% of Somali children born in 2009 received the first recommended MMR dose compared with 85% of non-Somali children.
MDH offers the following information about measles for parents and caregivers:
If you think you or your child has been exposed to measles
- Watch for symptoms of measles. Measles symptoms begin with a fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. Then a rash develops that usually spreads from the head to the rest of the body.
If you or your child has symptoms of measles
- Call your doctor or clinic right away if you see symptoms of measles. Your doctor or clinic will let you know if you need to come in for a visit.
People at high risk of getting measles
- Measles spreads easily among people who are not vaccinated.
- Areas with low immunization rates are a concern not only for those who are unvaccinated by choice, but also for those who cannot be vaccinated due to health status or age.
- All Minnesota children 12 months and older who have not received a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine should get it now.
- Adults who have never received the MMR vaccine and have never had measles should get the vaccine now.
- These children can get their second dose of MMR vaccine now:
- Somali Minnesotan children statewide
- Hennepin County children
- Vaccine recommendations may expand if the measles outbreak spreads to more communities.
Check your immunization record
- Talk to your doctor or clinic if you are not sure if you need to get vaccinated.