By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Measles were all but “eradicated” in the year 2000 — the same year George W. Bush faced Al Gore for president.

Now, measles are making a comeback. The Centers for Disease Control report a national surge this year. An Associated Press count now surpasses the 667 measles cases recorded in 2014 — the highest year since eradication.

The CDC reports overseas travelers are getting measles infections and bringing it home. It is so contagious: One person can infect 90% of people around them — who are not immune — for days before and after a rash appears.

So here is why Minnesota health officials are worried. Minnesota is one of 17 states that allows parents to opt out of vaccinations for personal reasons, and those reasons often include a belief that vaccines are harmful — even though the available evidence says that’s just not true.

(credit: CBS)

The CDC says:

  • Vaccines do not cause autism
  • Infant immune systems are strong enough for vaccines
  • Natural immunity is important, but vaccinations are safer
  • Adverse reactions are rare

Measles spread in places where vaccination rates drop below 93%. In Minnesota, there are a lot of counties like that:

  • Aitkin – 82%
  • Cass – 87%
  • Clearwater – 86%
  • Fillmore – 85%
  • Houston – 89%
  • Isanti – 87%
  • Koochiching – 87%
  • Martin – 85%
  • Ottertail – 89%
  • Pipestone – 84%
  • Renville – 88%
  • Sibley – 87%
  • Wadena – 87%
  • Wilkin – 83%

Fourteen counties have rates below 90%, where the risk of infection is higher.

The CDC recommends vaccinating children against measles twice: The first dose when they are 12 to 15 months old. The second, between 4 and 6.

Minnesota and Wisconsin did not have any known measles cases this year.

The CDC says the disease can be especially dangerous for babies and children. Measles can lead to pneumonia, brain damage and death.

Pat Kessler