Measles case confirmed at University of Minnesota

Measles virus
A single virus particle, or "virion," of the measles virus.
Cynthia S. Goldsmith / Courtesy of the CDC

Public health officials have confirmed a case of measles on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday measles was diagnosed in a 20-year-old male student.

Brooks Jackson, dean of the Medical School, said the student had recently returned from international travel and is off campus while recovering. The man agreed to stay home.

Prior to being diagnosed, the student attended class from Jan. 20-23 on the East Bank. He sought treatment at the University of Minnesota's Fairview Hospital, according to the state health department.

Jackson warned students, faculty and staff who have not been vaccinated against measles that the disease is highly infectious. He said anyone with concerns about exposure should contact their health care provider and that students can contact Boynton Health Service.

But he added the U of M clinic is working with the Minnesota Department of Health to contact anyone who may have been exposed to measles by the student.

Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota's health commissioner, said measles is "potentially very serious for those who haven't been vaccinated," adding the state will closely monitor the situation.

Local physicians, clinics, and hospitals also are being alerted to watch for patients with measles symptoms.

Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus, Jackson said. Symptoms include rash, accompanied by fever and in some cases cough or runny nose.

Symptoms appear about eight to 12 days after a person is exposed to measles and the first typically is fever. The rash usually appears two to three days after the fever begins and lasts five to six days.

The U of M requires students to be vaccinated before they can enroll.

From Jan. 1-23, 68 people from 11 states were reported to have measles, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these cases are part of a large, ongoing outbreak linked to Disneyland.

State health officials say the U case does not appear to have any connection to the California outbreak.

The U.S. experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 644 cases from 27 states reported to CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in 2000.

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