St Paul (KROC AM News) - Minnesota health officials Friday declared an end to the measles outbreak  that hit the state this year.

The Minnesota Dept of Health confirmed a total of 79 cases, with the majority involving children under 10 years of age. This was Minnesota’s largest outbreak of the disease since 1990 when there were 460 cases and three known deaths. This year’s first case was confirmed April 11, the last one on July 13.

The Somali community in Minneapolis took the brunt of the outbreak with 64 of the 79 cases.  The Health Dept says most of those involved unvaccinated individuals. Vaccination rates for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at the start of the outbreak hovered around 42 percent among Somali Minnesotan 2-year-olds. That allowed the virus to spread more easily among children in the community.

The department estimates it spent near a million dollars dealing with the outbreak. Hennepin County estimates its costs at $400,000.

“This outbreak showed that preventing disease requires all of us working together,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Public health is a community, collective endeavor. It’s what we as a society do together to ensure the conditions in which everyone can be healthy.”

He said his department will be actively engaged in a number of activities to help prevent future outbreaks.

Highlights of the outbreak include:

More than 8,000 people exposed to measles
More than 500 people asked to stay home from school, child care or work because they were potentially infectious (unvaccinated and exposed to someone infectious)
22 people hospitalized
73 cases under 10 years old
71 of the cases unvaccinated for measles
70 cases in Hennepin County, but also three in Ramsey County, four in Crow Wing and two in Le Sueur counties.

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