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Measles outbreak may be nearing its end in Minn.

MINNEAPOLIS  — Minnesota health officials are hoping the state’s measles outbreak is nearing its end as the number of new cases plateau for the last 13 days.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s daily tally has remained steady at 68 for much of the past two weeks, the Pioneer Press  reported. It dropped by one when a case in Ramsey County tested negative a few days ago.

However, health officials are still urging caution and recommending vaccinations. The health department expects the number of infections to rise as symptoms start to show among the few who contracted the disease after control efforts and prevention began.

Children’s Minnesota Infection Control Director Patsy Stinchfield said the hospital was waiting on results of nine more measles tests from the Memorial Day weekend.

The state has to go through two full incubation periods that each last 21 days without any positive cases before the outbreak can be declared over.

Symptoms of measles include a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes followed by a rash. It is highly contagious and spreads easily by coughing, sneezing or even being in the same room with someone who has measles.

Most Minnesota residents are immune either from being vaccinated or having had the disease, but health officials say fear related to misinformation about vaccine risks has led to a decline in vaccination rates.

The measles outbreak has hit the Somali-Minnesotan community hardest. Health officials are concerned the disease could spread more in gatherings for the month of Ramadan, which began Friday.

“We continue to partner with and provide faith leaders messages to take to Somali-Minnesotans throughout Ramadan,” Stinchfield said.