PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Department of Health is urging residents to verify that their immunizations are up to date as the number of cases of measles has gone up nationally.
State epidemiologist Dr. Lon Kightlinger (KYT'-ling-ur) says 200 cases of measles have been reported in the U.S. this year, including two cases in Minnesota.
The viral disease has not been reported in South Dakota since 1997. He says the virus is very contagious and spreads through direct contact and airborne droplets.
It can be contracted at any age and may cause brain damage or death.
State officials say the best protection is MMR, the measles vaccine. It's required for students entering South Dakota schools or child care.
Officials are encouraging child immunization as part of the Health Department's Health 2020 Initiative.