Minnesota Records First Rubella Case Since 2000

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Health officials have confirmed the first reported case of rubella in Minnesota since 2000.

The illness was reported in a woman in her thirties from the Twin City metro area. According to available records, the woman had never been immunized against rubella.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is following up directly with family members and health care workers who might have been exposed to rubella through contact with the woman who developed the illness.

Although MDH officials stressed that this particular case poses no unusual risk for the general public, they emphasized that controlling vaccine-preventable diseases like rubella continues to be a significant public health challenge.

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“This case serves as a reminder that these diseases are still out there,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota State Epidemiologist. “It’s still important for parents to follow standard recommendations, and make sure their children are properly immunized.”

Symptoms of rubella – also known as “German measles” – can include a rash, low-grade fever, cough, and swollen glands behind the ears and in the neck. The rash generally appears first on the face and moves from head to foot. The rash usually lasts for about 3 days. Many adults with rubella – especially women – get soreness or swelling of the joints, usually lasting for less than a month.

Some individuals can be infected with the rubella virus without developing any symptoms.

If a pregnant woman is infected with rubella before the 21st week of pregnancy, and she is not immune to the rubella virus, the result can be a serious condition known as congenital rubella syndrome. Although this condition is now rare because of widespread immunization against rubella, it can result in stillbirth, miscarriage, or premature delivery. The consequences for children born to mothers with congenital rubella syndrome can include deafness, mental retardation, and damage to the bones, liver and spleen.

Vaccination against the illness is done with a combination vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Children should get their initial round of MMR vaccine at 12-15 months of age, with a booster dose at age 4-6. MMR vaccination is also recommended for adults who have never received the vaccine, and especially for women of child bearing age who are not pregnant. Pregnant women who have never been immunized should receive the vaccine as soon as their baby is born.

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