Last Sunday, in an interview on the Outbreak News This Week Radio show, CIDRAP Director, Mike Osterholm, PhD, told me when asked about the Minnesota measles outbreak that they expected the outbreak to grow substantially.

At that time, Minnesota’s case tally was 32.


As of Friday, May 5, The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) put the outbreak total at 44– 41 in Hennepin County, 2 in Ramsey County and 1 in Crow Wing County, with 42 cases being unvaccinated and 86 percent of the cases being Somali Minnesotan.

Most of the exposures have occurred in either child care, health care or household settings. To date, more than 2,500 people have been exposed.

“Once measles begins to spread in unvaccinated populations, it can be very difficult to stop,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease control for MDH. “We would not be surprised if we saw additional cases in other parts of the state where there are clusters of unvaccinated people before this is over.”

In fact, the current outbreak prompted Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) officials to urge the public to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

This is now the largest measles outbreak in Minnesota in 30 years.

On Thursday, state health officials expanded their recommendations for stepped-up vaccination in an effort to curb the spread of the disease.

MDH has made the following recommendations to protect children and adults during outbreaks:

  • All children 12 months and older who have not received a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine should get the first dose as soon as possible.
  • Adults born in 1957 or later who have never received the MMR vaccine and have never had measles should get the vaccine as soon as possible.

For children who have had one dose of the MMR vaccine:

  • In counties where measles cases have been identified (currently Hennepin, Ramsey and Crow Wing), children 12 months and older who received their first dose of the MMR vaccine at least 28 days ago should get their second dose as soon as possible.
  • All Somali Minnesotan children statewide who received their first dose of the MMR vaccine at least 28 days ago should get their second dose now.
  • Health care providers may recommend an early second dose of the MMR vaccine during routine appointments for children statewide.

The MMR vaccine is given to children in two doses, typically at 12 months and between 4-6 years. The first dose offers good protection, and the second dose provides extra security. The accelerated vaccine schedule recommended is commonly used during outbreaks.

Since April 11, when the the outbreak began, outbreak response efforts have involved more than 70 staff at the state level, working full or part time, at a cost of $207,000. In addition, county public health staff and health care providers and facilities involved in the outbreak have accrued significant labor and related costs.