Measles Cases Increase In Surrounding State

Apr 26, 2017

Credit South Dakota Department of Health

Measles cases are popping up in various places across the Midwest. South Dakota officials say there is no trace of the disease in this state yet.

Officials have now confirmed 20 measles cases around Minneapolis Minnesota. 16 of the cases were children who had not been vaccinated. Two cases have also been found in Lincoln County Nebraska.

South Dakota has been relatively measles-free with the exception of 10 cases in 2015. Before that it was 17 years since the state saw any cases.

Lon Kightlinger is the state epidemiologist. He says the area health departments are hard at work to prevent the disease from spreading.

“With the Nebraska case that was an airline exposure, people were flying into Omaha and we had South Dakota people in the same row as the person with measles. And we had their names and we tracked them down and found out that some were college students, some were adults and everyone was vaccinated so that puts you out of risk we dodged a bullet there,” says Kightlinger

Kightlinger says the combination of a rash and fever are the telling signs of measles. He says controlling the disease has greatly improved the quality of life.

“It used to be a childhood disease, I’m old enough, I was born in the 1950s when we all got measles, it was ubiquitous, it was a rite of passage kind of a disease. But it took its toll, one out of every thousand kids that got measles ended up with brain damage and syphelides  and all sorts of lifelong disabilities. Three out of every thousand children died so it really took its toll. It’s just a bad disease that we are on the cusp of getting rid of,” says Kightlinger.

Kightlinger says it’s best get vaccinated when you are a child. He says the vaccine is safe and covers measles, mumps and rubella.