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UPDATE: North Dakota reports first case of measles in seven years

BISMARCK -- The first case of measles in the state since 2011 was reported in Burleigh County on Tuesday.

The North Dakota Department of Health said in a news release Wednesday that the infected person traveled between numerous locations in the Bismarck area last month while contagious, including two Catholic schools in Bismarck.

Gerald Vetter, president of Light of Christ Catholic Schools, said 27 students who are not vaccinated against measles at St. Mary's Central High School, St. Mary's Academy and Saint Anne Elementary School are being kept out of school for 21 days from the date of exposure.

The Department of Health said exposures occurred Aug. 22 at St. Mary's Central High School and the Academy, and Aug. 24 at Saint Anne Elementary School. Other exposures include:

Church of Saint Anne: Aug. 20-26

Dan’s Supermarket, Turnpike Avenue: 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 20

Baptist Health Care Center: 10 a.m. Mass

Based on recommendations from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention, and in accordance with North Dakota Century Code, students not vaccinated against the measles at St. Mary's Central High School and the Academy are to not return to school until Sept. 12, and unvaccinated students at Saint Anne Elementary School are barred from school until Sept. 14.

Vetter said they notified parents of the possible exposures on Wednesday.

"As a school system, we are following the assigned protocols offered by the North Dakota Department of Health. We are working closely with them, and we're cooperating and everyone is working together to ensure the safety of our community," Vetter said.

Measles is highly contagious and spreads easily by coughing, sneezing or even being in the same room with someone who has the disease. People with measles are contagious from four days before to four days after rash onset.

Measles symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes followed by a rash that typically spreads from the head to the rest of the body. It generally takes eight to 12 days to develop, but can be as long as 21 days, from exposure to the first symptom.

The Department of Health has a list of mandatory reportable conditions, which includes measles, according to Molly Howell, immunization manager. As soon as a case is reported to the department, Howell said they follow up with the health care provider and patient to collect information regarding symptoms and contacts the patient had. In this case, the person most likely contracted measles out-of-state, she said.

Howell said people with symptoms of measles should contact their health care provider before going to the clinic or hospital.

Two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella, or MMR, vaccine is a requirement for students who attend public and private schools in North Dakota. However, parents are able to claim philosophical or religious exemptions.

Howell said children who do not have both doses of the vaccine should get vaccinated.

"It's age-appropriate, so we're not recommending anyone get vaccinated early. We're basically recommending everyone receive vaccines at 12 to 15 months and four to six years, so kids who are older than that should have two doses," she said.

Also, all adults born in 1957 or later should also have at least one dose of the MMR vaccine, Howell said.

According to the CDC, there have been 124 cases of measles confirmed in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

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