Minnesota Health Commissioner asks state for $5M in emergency funds amid measles outbreak

Amid an ongoing outbreak of the measles that has infected 51 people in Minnesota as of Wednesday, the state health commissioner asked the state Legislature for $5 million to create an emergency fund to address outbreaks of infectious disease, according to NBC News.

"In recent months, state and local public health officials have had to respond to a series of infectious disease outbreaks including multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, hundreds of new cases of syphilis, and now, the largest measles outbreak the state has faced in nearly 30 years," said Ed Ehlinger, MD, Minnesota's health commissioner, according to NBC News.

Kris Ehresmann, BSN, the health department's infectious disease director, told NBC News the state spent $207,000 in the first three weeks to fight the current measles outbreak.

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The current outbreak has rapidly spread through the Somali Minnesotan community in the Twin Cities. Forty-six of the 51 measles cases were reported among this population. Immunization rates among Somali Minnesotans have declined sharply in recent years after members of the anti-vaccine movement targeted the community.

Approximately 90 percent of individuals who are unvaccinated will contract the measles upon exposure, meaning the health department has to notify hundreds of people for each confirmed case.

"We have had 70 [on] staff at the state health department working on this response," said Ms. Ehresmann, according to NBC News. "This is a hugely expensive outbreak ... Not only are there health costs for treating children. There are economic costs for their families, and there are costs to the public health system."

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