ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota health officials may call an end to the state’s measles outbreak if no new cases arise by the end of the month.

The number of cases in the state has held steady at nearly 80 for almost one month, Minnesota Public Radio (http://bit.ly/2tFUN53 ) reported. Health officials must wait until July 29, when two incubation periods pass without any new cases, before declaring the outbreak over.

“We did a lot of work, both public health as well as the health care community both vaccinating as well as following up on anyone who was exposed, so we feel like that has really helped to slow the outbreak down, and at this point we’re hoping that we’re done with it,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the infectious disease division at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Ehresmann said that the Twin Cities community is better protected than before the outbreak, but that everyone should remain vigilant because the outbreak could continue.

The Somali community has been hardest hit during the outbreak. The health department normally documents about 30 measles vaccinations a week among this group. That number rose to about 500 a week during the outbreak’s peak.

University of Minnesota researcher Anab Gulaid has worked on health issues in the community for more than a decade. She said that although some parents may still be hesitant about vaccinating their children, more people in the Somali community are now aware of the benefits. Many faith leaders in the Somali community helped spread the message about the importance of vaccines, she said.

In the coming months, health officials will analyze data to see how the vaccination rate among Somali-American 2-year-olds improves. The vaccination rate was at 40 percent before the outbreak.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org