St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Minnesota’s current measles outbreak, which has already been labeled the worst in at least 20 years, continues to grow. The Minnesota Department of Health says it has confirmed a total of 41 cases of the highly-contagious disease since the start of the outbreak. To put that number into perspective, there were a total of 56 measles cases in Minnesota over the previous 20 years.

38 of the cases in this outbreak have been in Hennepin County and 34 involve children of Somali descent. Two of the infections involve people in Ramsey County, and a new case has been confirmed in Crow Wing County.  There has also been one new case involving an adult. All the other infections have been in children ages 10 and under.

Health Department officials also note that 39 of the people sickened by the virus had not been immunized, while the other two had received two doses of the MMR vaccine.  

The continued spread of the potentially life-threatening disease has prompted the health department to further expand its recommendations for the measles vaccination.

  • All children 12 months and older who have not received a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine should get the first dose as soon as possible.
  • Adults born in 1957 or later who have never received the MMR vaccine and have never had measles should get the vaccine as soon as possible.

For children who have had one dose of the MMR vaccine:

  • In counties where measles cases have been identified (currently Hennepin, Ramsey and Crow Wing), children 12 months and older who received their first dose of the MMR vaccine at least 28 days ago should get their second dose as soon as possible.
  • All Somali Minnesotan children statewide who received their first dose of the MMR vaccine at least 28 days ago should get their second dose now.
  • Health care providers may recommend an early second dose of the MMR vaccine during routine appointments for children statewide.