Minnesota's massive measles outbreak may be over

Signs at the entry to Children's Minneapolis's primary care clinic.
Signs at the entry to Children's Minneapolis's primary care clinic on May 10, 2017.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News file

After about four months and 79 cases, the Minnesota measles outbreak may finally be over.

The Minnesota Department of Health has scheduled an announcement Friday afternoon where — if no new cases pop up — officials will deem the outbreak finished.

This measles outbreak has been Minnesota's largest since 1990. It was clustered in Somali-American youth, with 64 of the cases in Somali-Americans and 74 cases infecting children age 17 or younger.

The Somali-American community was hit especially hard because anti-vaccination proponents falsely led many people to believe the measles shot caused autism. Until 2006, Somali-American children had a higher measles vaccination rate than their peers.

The outbreak also focused attention on Minnesota's vaccination rules, which require parents to provide a notarized statement saying they don't want their child vaccinated.

Most kindergartners who skipped the vaccine this year did so by using that rule. Under 100 kids statewide in that age group opted out of the vaccine due to an allergy or other medical problem, according to the state health department.

This recent outbreak was eventually stymied by public-health initiatives across the Twin Cities. Health department officials plan to recognize partners at the Friday events, including school and Somali community leaders, as well as Hennepin County public health staff.

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