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U of M student has the measles, officials confirm

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A student at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus has the measles, and health officials are in the process of notifying other students and university staff members he may have been in contact with, the university said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

The 20-year-old male student had recently returned from traveling internationally, and he is now living alone off campus while he recovers, according to the news release.

Before he was diagnosed, the student attended classes from Jan. 20-23 on the East Bank, and had gone to the University Recreation and Wellness Center on the evening of January 20.

The university's health services are working with public health officials to contact anyone who may have been exposed to measles from the ill student.

That's about 2,500 people, according to Gary Christenson, the chief medical officer at Boynton Health Service. He told the Minnesota Daily all those people will get an email from the university alerting them to the situation.

Most students at the university are not at risk of catching the measles because they've been immunized against the disease.

The U of M requires all students born after 1956 to be vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella and tetanus. Faculty and staff members are not required to be immunized, however.

Local physicians, clinics and hospitals are also on alert to watch for patients who might have measles symptoms.

Measles was once a common childhood disease, but is rarely seen now in the state since most children are immunized against it. The Minnesota Health Department says there were only two cases of measles in the state in 2014, and two in 2013.

There have been outbreaks in other states lately. Dozens of people have come down with the measles since December, and most have been traced back to Disneyland in California.

Many say the recurrence of measles is due to the fact that more parents are shunning vaccines out of concern (ill-founded, doctors say) that the shots themselves can cause illness or other health conditions.

Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. Symptoms – including rash, accompanied by fever and in some cases cough or runny nose – usually appear eight to 12 days after a person is exposed to measles.

The first symptom is usually fever. The rash usually appears two to three days after the fever begins and lasts five to six days. The disease has become very rare in the United States thanks to widespread vaccination, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

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