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Crow Wing measles case involves St. Francis of the Lakes student

The unvaccinated child in Crow Wing County with measles is a student at a local Catholic school, a letter to parents from the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday.

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The unvaccinated child in Crow Wing County with measles is a student at a local Catholic school, a letter to parents from the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday.

"This letter is to inform you that measles has been diagnosed in a child who attends St. Francis of the Lakes Catholic School," the letter read. "Your child may have been exposed to measles. Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus."

St. Francis is a parochial school in Brainerd that teaches students in kindergarten through eighth grade. St. Francis superintendent the Rev. Tony Wroblewski declined to be interviewed on the phone or in person, but later emailed a statement.

"As soon as the family informed us of the illness, we called the school nurse at the school district. She took it from there .... MDH contacted us the same day, and we have followed their instructions exactly, and will continue to," the statement said. "Our main and only concerns have been prayers for the child who is ill, and the safety of all our children and their families."

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The child contracted the disease after being exposed to it in a Hennepin County health care facility - MDH agency spokesperson.

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Wednesday, the MDH publicly confirmed that the measles case was in Crow Wing County but declined to provide further details in order to protect the child's identity.

An agency spokesperson said the child contracted the disease after being exposed to it in a Hennepin County health care facility.

 

"MDH and Crow Wing County Public Health are following up on family members and others who may have been exposed," Doug Schultz of MDH said.

The health department reported Thursday a total of 41 confirmed cases since April 11, 2017. The majority of cases are in Hennepin County, and almost all are unvaccinated. 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.

Health officials said the Crow Wing County child may have been exposed in multiple locations in Hennepin County.

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Disease investigators follow up with each confirmed case to determine how the person became infected and who was exposed to the case while they were infectious, health officials stated. Those exposed people who are determined not to be immune to measles-because they have not been vaccinated or have had the disease-are asked to exclude themselves from school, work or child care for 21 days. People can get measles by just being in the same room as someone who has measles, the health department reported.

With 41 confirmed cases of measles in Hennepin, Ramsey and Crow Wing counties, and more cases likely in the current outbreak, state health officials Thursday expanded their recommendations for stepped-up vaccination in an effort to curb the spread of the disease.

Of the 41 existing cases of measles so far, 39 are unvaccinated, according to MDH. Among the afflicted, 40 cases are in children ages 0-10 and one is an adult.

"Measles is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. It spreads very easily among unvaccinated people," the state health officials reported.

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

Recommendations for vaccinations are for

  • Children age 12 months and older who have not received a MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) 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 health department advised parents to contact their child's health care provider and specifically tell them the child needs the MMR vaccine.
"This may help avoid a longer wait associated with scheduling a routine appointment," MDH stated. "... It is important for people who think they or their child may have measles to call their health care facility before going in so they can take measures to protect other people. Most people in Minnesota are immune to measles either from having been vaccinated or from having had the disease. However, in recent years vaccine rates have declined in some communities and groups-often due to fears related to misinformation about vaccine risks."

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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.

"Babies younger than 12 months may have some protection from their mothers if their mothers have been vaccinated or have had measles. The current outbreak has caused illness almost exclusively in children older than 12 months," the health department reported.

Minnesotans who have received the MMR vaccine are considered protected.

In April, MDH Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger linked the outbreak to false information the Somali community had received about the supposed risk of vaccines, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

"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 in a Thursday release. "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 addition to case identification, investigation and follow-up, state and local health officials have been working with local public health staff and leaders in the Somali community to address concerns about autism and encourage MMR vaccination, the health department stated in the update.

In the three weeks since the outbreak began, health officials reported outbreak response efforts have involved more than 70 staff at the state level, working full or part time, at a cost of $207,000, adding county public health staff and health care providers and facilities involved in the outbreak have accrued significant labor and related costs.

In a May news release, Essentia Health said the best way to prevent measles is to be fully vaccinated.

"Measles spreads in the air through coughing and sneezing and can live for up to two hours on surfaces or in an airspace where an infected person has coughed or sneezed. Measles is a very serious illness," Essentia Health stated.

For that reason, the medical center advised people to seek medical care right away if their child has these symptoms:

  • A mild to moderate fever along with a cough, runny nose or watery/mattering eyes,
  • Tiny red spots with bluish-white centers inside the mouth on the cheek linings,
  • High fever and a red, blotchy rash that starts on the face and spreads down the body.

"If you suspect someone in your family has been exposed to measles be sure to stay home and avoid having visitors until you have talked with your doctor or clinic," Essentia Health stated. "Your doctor or clinic will tell you if you should come in for a visit. If you have not been vaccinated, getting an MMR shot within three days of being exposed may prevent you from getting measles."
Resources for help

"Contact your health care provider to confirm that you and your children have received the MMR vaccine," the health department reported. People may also request immunization records by calling 651-201-3980 or visiting bit.ly/2qFLvUA for the state health department site for immunization records.

For parents concerned about the cost of immunizations, the Minnesota Vaccines for Children Program provides free or low-cost vaccines for eligible children through age 18. Check bit.ly/2qFx2Ih for more information on the program.

Go to bit.ly/2qtl5YY for more information on measles and for updates as the investigation continues.

Related Topics: CROW WING COUNTY
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