Measles outbreak persists after new case

Published 7:55 am Saturday, July 15, 2017

By Solvejg Wastvedt

ST. PAUL — Just as many were thinking the measles outbreak was nearly over, it wasn’t.

Health officials on Thursday confirmed a new case, bringing the total to 79. The sick person — an unvaccinated, white adult in Hennepin County — had contact with others, so more new cases are likely.

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Kris Ehresmann, the state infectious disease director, knows she sounds like a broken record. But her message remains the same: “It’s all about vaccination, and people need to get vaccinated.”

The latest measles-infected person likely contracted the disease by encountering a sick person, Ehresmann said.

“[They] shared kind of airspace, if you will, with one of the other cases,” she said. “They lived near each other, they had similar shopping and restaurant habits.”

The person is cooperating with officials’ request to stay away from public places. But the person did visit public places in Hennepin, Ramsey and Carver counties while infectious.

“This person has roommates and family and has a job and things like that, and was out in the community doing things,” Ehresmann said.

Measles is highly infectious and airborne — meaning it can hang in the air for two hours after an infected person leaves an area.

“So you can have a situation where someone’s in a particular room or in a particular place and someone could come an hour later and never even have face to face contact and still be exposed to measles,” Ehresmann said.

Ehresmann said the health department is following up with as many people as possible who were in contact with the new case. The health department said unvaccinated people were exposed to the measles.