After weeks of quiet, Minnesota sees another new measles case

It's associated with the 78 previous cases that made up the outbreak.
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It's been weeks since the last reported measles case in Minnesota – but that period of no news is now over.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday it's confirmed a new measles incident. It's an unvaccinated white adult who lives in Hennepin County, and the agency says it's associated with the previous cases.

That brings the total number of measles cases in Minnesota to 79, more than the entire country had in all of 2016, as John Oliver noted. The department says the new case was probably exposed to measles at locations the previous most recent case had visited.

This newest case is being asked to stay home while they're possibly infectious. But the person had visited several public places in Hennepin, Ramsey and Carver counties – the department is trying to follow up on as many possible exposures as it can.

They've also identified more unvaccinated people who were exposed to this most recent case, so more could develop, Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for MDH, said in the announcement.

Where measles has been found so far

Most of the measles cases recorded have been in Hennepin County. The majority have been unvaccinated, the same as this most recent case, and 81 percent of the cases were Somali-Americans – a group targeted by anti-vaccine proponents.

The Department of Health notes more than 90 percent of Minnesotans have either been vaccinated, so they're at very low risk of getting the disease, or have previously had measles so can't get it again.

If you develop possible symptoms though – cough, runny nose, fever and rash – call your doctor right away.

So the outbreak isn't quite over

There have been reports that the measles outbreak might be winding down. But the department says we need to go 42 days with no new cases before they can declare the outbreak over.

Ehresmann said that's why they've been "cautious about making any predictions."

"When you're dealing with a disease that can spread as easily as measles, you need to keep your guard up until the very end of the possible timeframe when people could get sick," she said. "This latest case is unfortunate, but we remain optimistic that we’re heading in the right direction thanks to the public health measures we've taken in partnership with local public health, the affected individuals and communities."

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