By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — State health leaders declared an official end to the measles outbreak Friday.

The outbreak is the biggest in Minnesota since 1990, as 79 people got sick.

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The last identified case was discovered July 13, with the outbreak peaking in May. If no new cases are identified for 42 days, the outbreak can be declared over, as the incubation period for measles is 21 days.

Nearly everyone infected did not have the vaccine, and all but 15 were members of the Somali community.

Health leaders say that community is concerned vaccines can lead to autism, which is not true.

“There’s no other way to prevent the measles unless you get the vaccine,” Dr. Ahmed Mohamed said.

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Dr. Mohamed, who is Somali-American, made a plea for those in the Somali community to get their kids vaccinated. The MDH also worked with Imams and local Somali leaders and community members to explain how serious the outbreak was.

MDH Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger says the end of the outbreak was thanks to a months-long group effort. School leaders and daycare workers helped figure out which kids were exposed.

“Health care providers and workers stepped up in their efforts to immunize hundreds of patients,” Ehlinger said. “Hospitals provided excellent care to 22 people — mostly children — who were hospitalized with complications to measles.”

Officials say around 1,600 people have been immunized for measles since April.

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In 1990, a measles outbreak sickened 460 people, and killed three.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield