Minnesota measles outbreak reaches 70 cases, shows signs of slowing down

The Minnesota Department of Health increased the total number of measles cases to 70 Wednesday, marking a two case increase over the last two weeks.

The slowdown in reported cases has generated some optimism among health officials that the outbreak, which began in April, may be coming to a close, according to a Pioneer Press report.

Still, health officials continue to promote caution and proper vaccination in the community. The health department does expect more cases to emerge, as symptoms of the virus may take as long as two weeks to manifest, according to the report.

All but 11 of the illnesses have occurred among the Somali-Minnesotan population.  Immunization rates have declined in recent years among this group due to the spread of misinformation fueled by debunked pseudo-science linking vaccines to autism. However, the outbreak has spurred a shift in thinking among some members of the community.

Patsy Stinchfield, RN, the senior director of infection control at Minnesota Children's in Minneapolis, told the Pioneer Press parents of infected children she has spoken with have expressed a change of heart regarding vaccines.

"The parents see how dangerous and difficult the measles disease is," Ms. Stinchfield said, according to the report. She said parents tell her, "'This is a nightmare, this is horrible. I wouldn't want my child or any other child to go through this. If I had to do it over again, I would've vaccinated.'"

Measles is a highly transmissible virus characterized by symptoms such as fever runny nose, cough and a red rash that covers the body. Two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is 97 percent effective at preventing the measles, according to the CDC.

Note: This article has been corrected to accurately reflect that Minnesota is currently experiencing an ongoing measles outbreak. A previous version of the article contained a line describing the situation as a mumps outbreak.

More articles on infection control: 
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Study links flu infection with Parkinson's disease risk 
15 articles on antibiotic resistance published in May

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