The first case of measles of 2018 has been confirmed in a child in Hennepin County who traveled to a region where the illness is more common.
An outbreak last year sickened 75 in Minnesota and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control determined the root cause was a misunderstanding by some in the Somali-American community that the vaccine causes autism and the vaccination rate had lowered significantly in that population.
CDC officials say 95 percent of the cases were unvaccinated children and 85 percent of them were Somali-American.
Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh said measles is one of the most contagious illness that exists and, “If you have a group of people who are all susceptible to the disease, meaning they haven’t been immunized and don’t have immunity to it, and they’re exposed to somebody who has ongoing measles, the chances are quite high that the people in that room who have been exposed would come down with measles.”
Tosh said that measles has made a resurgence, in part, because parents of young children don’t remember a time when the illness was causing many child deaths. “We have been a victim of our own success in terms of the measles vaccine,” he said, “People are choosing not to vaccinate their kids because, well, they don’t see measles.”
Measles is caused by a virus that is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, but Tosh said it can be prevented with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR.