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Vaccine skeptics are being blamed for Minnesota's biggest measles outbreak in decades

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Health officials say anti-vaccine activists helped fuel Minnesota's largest measles outbreak in decades, NBC News reports. 

There are 48 confirmed cases in Hennepin, Ramsey and Crow Wing counties, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Health officials say 45 of the individuals affected were not vaccinated. 

In addition, of those impacted, 46 are children 10 years old or younger and 41 are Somali-American, according to data released by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Health experts say the Somali community was hit particularly hard because parents have been targeted with inaccurate information about vaccines being linked to autism. 

"Unfortunately, the Minnesota Somali community has been targeted with misinformation about vaccine risks," Minnesota Health Commissioner said in a statement to Fox affiliate KMSP. "We're partnering with Somali community leaders and health care providers to counteract that misinformation."

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Measles begin as "flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that can be spread through coughing and sneezing.  The CDC notes that it so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of those close to that person who are not immune will also be infected. 

Vaccine skeptics are being blamed for Minnesota's biggest measles outbreak in decades

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