ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Measles. More and more Measles.
The Minnesota Department of Public Health now reports 51 cases -- 47 of those are unvaccinated, the state's worst outbreak in almost 30 years.
Fifty-one may not sound like a lot. It's much more than that.
"I think sometimes people think 'Oh yeah, 51 cases that doesn't seem like so many,' you know. But, when you think about the 7,000 exposures, all the child care providers, all the schools, all the health care settings, all of a sudden you realize that this is an incredibly complex sort of response, and it's taking a lot of time and energy, and it's costing a lot of money," said Kris Ehresmann with MDH.
All because it's way too easy to get.
"Measles is exceptionally contagious. If you had a child with measles in an exam room at the doctor's office and then they left, and you came in two hours later you could still get measles from that person," said Ehresmann.
But, the Department of Health wants you in the doctor's office. Kids are supposed to get two measles shots: one at 12 months, and then another when they're around five. They're urging everyone to get that second dose now.
"Well, the first dose gives protection at about 92% and then the second dose is really an added bit of protection bringing you up to the 98-99%. So, really, what we're trying to do is, we're trying to make sure we have the maximum protection in the most people as possible," said Ehresmann.
And, Ehresmann says it's completely safe. If you get that first shot, you can even go back a month later for the second.
"One of the challenges with measles is the very first symptoms a person develops are non-specific. So, they get a cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and a high fever. And, then, after three to four days of that, they develop the rash," said Ehresmann.
And, people stay infectious for eight days. Right now, MDH is calling all over the place to find out where it started and who may have been affected.
"When we look at those cases we're not seeing any evidence that anything is slowing down. So, I think that's the thing. It's not like 'Oh, we've peaked and we're on the way out.' No, not at all," said Ehresmann.
So should people be scared?
"I don't think scared is the right word. I think what we want people to do is be aware and to take action. So, we would encourage parents - make sure your kids have gotten the vaccines they need," said Ehresmann.
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