ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health issued a warning Wednesday to anyone who traveled through Winona or Albert Lea during a recent weekend in April.
That’s because there’s a slight chance you may have been exposed to measles if you stopped at two local businesses.
A person infected with the virus made stops at restaurants and other public locations between April 13 and April 16.
Measles is an infectious disease, and although it’s been nearly eradicated, it remains a threat.
In this recent case, a contagious person from Missouri traveled through Iowa, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“We know that measles seeks out those individuals who are most susceptible, so we want to be sure that people be aware so that we don’t allow it to gain a foothold in Minnesota,” said Kris Ehresmann, the head of infectious diseases for the Minnesota Department of Health.
The infected person made stops at a Winona McDonald’s restaurant located at 172 Main Street between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. on April 13.
On April 16, the same individual visited the Freeborn County Co-Op gas station at 1840 Margaretha Avenue in Albert Lea between 9:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
Employees of both businesses have been notified of the potential exposure.
“Measles is very infectious,” Ehresmann said. “In fact, you don’t even have to come face to face with a person, you could be in the room after they’ve left.”
On average, Minnesota records one or two cases of the measles a year.
But in 2017 there were 75 confirmed cases, mostly in the metro. The next highest outbreak occurred in 2011 when the state reported 26 confirmed cases.
The current warning is intended to head off the potential for a wider outbreak.
“Yes, we’re being a little proactive here just a year after our large measles outbreak,” Ehresmann said. “Our intent is to make people aware of the exposures. It’s also a good opportunity to check your vaccination status and if you have been vaccinated you can sit back and relax.”
Ehresman says it’s encouraging that so far, there have been no new cases reported.
Because of the incubation window, anyone exposed to this person would likely come down with symptoms between April 23 through May 7.
Those signs include high fever, cough, watery eyes, and a red rash.
Those who suspect they have the disease are asked to call their health care provider and not visit the clinic without giving prior notice.