Minnesota measles outbreak: Allina hospitals add visitor restrictions

Allina Health has added visitor restrictions for all hospitals and clinics in response to the measles outbreak in Minnesota. Children under the age of five are asked not to visit patients in the hospital, and people who are sick should also refrain from visiting patients.

Visitors to the Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital could be screened for wellness. Nurses at Allina hospitals and clinics will also make “compassionate exceptions” based on a patient's critical condition and prognosis.

As of May 8, the Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 48 measles cases in the state. Of the 48 cases confirmed, 45 are in Hennepin County, two are in Ramsey County and one case is in Crow Wing County. MDH confirmed 45 of the cases are unvaccinated patients, while two patients had two doses of the MMR vaccine and one patient had one dose. Forty-six cases of the measles cases are in children under the age of 10, with two adult cases reported.

41 cases in Somali community

The measles outbreak has hit Minnesota’s Somali community particularly hard, with 41 cases confirmed in Somali-Minnesotans. State health experts say Somali parents have been targeted with misinformation about vaccines, and associate the MMR vaccine with autism.

"Unfortunately, the Minnesota Somali community has been targeted with misinformation about vaccine risks," a statement from the Minnesota Health Commissioner said. "We're partnering with Somali community leaders and health care providers to counteract that  misinformation."

MDH expands vaccine recommendations

As the number of cases continues to rise, the Minnesota Department of Health now recommends that all children 12 months and older and adults born in 1957 or later who have not received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or had measles get the first dose as soon as possible.

The MMR vaccine is given to children in two doses. MDH recommends that any children who live in Hennepin, Ramsey and Crow Wing counties and received their first dose of the MMR vaccine at least 28 days ago get their second dose as soon as possible.

All Somali Minnesotan children statewide who received their first dose of the vaccine at least 28 days ago should also get their second dose as soon as possible.

Health officials say parents should contact their child’s health care provider and tell them the child needs the MMR vaccine, which pay help get them in for an appointment more quickly. Parents concerned about the cost of immunizations can visit the MDH website to learn more about the Minnesota Vaccines for Children program, which offers free or low cost shots for eligible children under the age of 18.

Measles symptoms

Symptoms of measles include a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by a large rash. It is highly contagious, potentially deadly and you can get it simply by being in the same room with someone who has the measles.

“This is about unvaccinated children, not specific communities,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a statement. “There are people of all backgrounds around the state who have chosen not to protect themselves or their children. Often that decision is based on good intentions and inaccurate information. It’s the responsibility of all of us who care about the health of Minnesota children to make sure people have accurate information and take action to protect their families and their communities."

The last major measles outbreak in Minnesota occurred in 1990 – with more than 450 cases and 3 deaths.

Allina hospitals and clinics with visitor restrictions.

Abbott Northwestern Hospital (Minneapolis)
United Hospital (St. Paul)
Mercy Hospital (Coon Rapids)
Mercy Hospital (Fridley)
St. Francis Regional Medical Center (Shakopee)
Phillips Eye Institute (Minneapolis)
Buffalo Hospital
Cambridge Medical Center
District One Hospital (Faribault)
New Ulm Medical Center
Owatonna Hospital
Regina Hospital, Hastings
River Falls Area Hospital (Wisconsin)