Dozens of people in Minnesota have been diagnosed with measles in recent weeks, leading health officials to consider imposing a mandatory isolation and quarantine order on some people who have been exposed.
The Minnesota Health Department announced Thursday a total of 41 confirmed cases since April 11, 2017. This week alone, the agency confirmed seven new cases, including the first in a child outside the original affected area and the first case involving an adult.
Most of the exposures have occurred in either child care, health care, or household settings. To date, more than 2,500 people have been exposed, the Department states.
Disease investigators follow up with each confirmed case to determine how the person became infected and who was exposed to the case while they were infectious. Those exposed people who are determined not to be immune to measles – because they have not been vaccinated nor had the disease – are asked to exclude themselves from school, work or child care for 21 days.
“Once measles begins to spread in unvaccinated populations, it can be very difficult to stop,” Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease control for MDH, said in a statement. “We would not be surprised if we saw additional cases in other parts of the state where there are clusters of unvaccinated people before this is over.”
In fact, the Health Department says that all but two of the cases have been in individuals without immunity protection. This week two people who had the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine fell ill.
One of those individuals happened to involve a health care worker who was exposed to several infected children, Ehresmann said.
The spread of the outbreak prompted state officials to begin considering isolation or quarantine for those exposed to the infection, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
“We have some people who have not followed what we asked, and they have been blatant in exposing other people,” Ehresmann said, noting that those exposed had been asked to avoid public places. “They have potentially spread the disease in other locations.”
Additionally, the health department has increased its call for those who don’t have the MMR vaccine to get it and added advice to its website for consumers.
The Star Tribune reports that the outbreak is the largest in Minnesota in 27 years. In that case more than 450 people were infected.