By Nancy Lebens | MPR,

The number of measles cases has reached eight, with five new cases just confirmed, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday.

All cases are in Hennepin county children ages 1 to 4. All children were not vaccinated before contracting the illness. Six were hospitalized. Health officials discovered one common contact for all but one of the cases.

MDH Infectious Diseases Division Director Kris Ehresmann said in a press release that seven of the eight children are Somali Minnesotans.


“We’re working with the Somali community in the Twin Cities to alert people to the outbreak,” Ehresmann said. “The best way to protect yourself and your community is to make sure everyone has been vaccinated.”

Three cases were confirmed earlier this week, and at the time health officials warned that other cases could follow since the children were treated in an emergency room.

Measles outbreaks are rare in the U.S., but the highly contagious disease still is found in other parts of the world. The symptoms are high fever, with cough and watery eyes. A rash follows, spreading from head to to the rest of the body. Measles can be fatal.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said outbreaks are not about specific communities.

“Unfortunately, the Minnesota Somali community has been targeted with misinformation about vaccine risks,” Ehlinger said. “We want as many Minnesotans as possible to protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated.”