MINNEAPOLIS – The number of measles cases in Minnesota continues to rise, now new details are emerging about how one Minneapolis hospital handled the initial outbreak.
Alpha News recently received a report from a family member of an oncology patient who wished to remain anonymous that patients with weakened immune systems at Children’s Minnesota may have been exposed to measles.
According to the report, on April 9th, a suspected measles case was placed on the seventh floor of Children’s hospital, the same floor as cancer unit. Measles is an airborne disease, requiring negative airflow rooms to limit the spread to others. Since the oncology ward at Children’s is not equipped with negative airflow rooms, the cancer and blood disorder patients on the floor were potentially exposed to measles.
The source also said, the measles patient was moved to a different floor with negative airflow rooms on April 10th, over 24 hours later, but the damage had already been done. The report says as many as 20 cancer patients were potentially exposed to the virus.
Alpha News made numerous attempts to contact Children’s for a response to the report. After several days the hospital finally responded in an official statement.
In the statement, the hospital said In order to help fight off the potential virus, the exposed cancer patients were given an IV immune globulin (IVIG).
According to the Alpha News source, at least one cancer patient was required to go through the emergency department (ED) waiting room to receive their IVIG, potentially exposing the child to measles a second time. The hospital would not confirm whether a negative airflow ED waiting room was being used for measles patients. The source tells Alpha News other discharged patients were able to receive the treatment through the cancer clinic, and inpatients were treated on unit.
In the hospital’s statement, they say the cancer patients exposed to measles during the early part of April are now outside of the 7-21 day incubation period for the virus with no measles cases reported. However, it is still unclear why Children’s originally placed a measles patient on the same floor as immunocompromised patients. When pressed for specific details on the issue, Children’s has avoided questions.
“The safety of our patients, their families and Children’s Minnesota employees is our number one priority. One of the first two suspected measles cases in this outbreak was initially on a clinical floor that includes our cancer unit. All necessary precautions were put in place immediately, including personal outreach to every family potentially exposed and all appropriate clinical follow up and monitoring,” Children’s told Alpha News. “Measles threatens the entire community, healthy people and sick people. Until we achieve higher vaccination rates in the region, families will continue to be at risk in all areas of our community.”
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) could not comment on the spread of measles through Children’s, but estimates at least 500 people have been exposed to the virus in health care settings alone during the outbreak.
“The good news is most people in Minnesota, including children 12 months and older, are vaccinated against measles so they will have some immunity,” MDH Communications Specialist Doug Schultz told Alpha News earlier this week. “We work with health care facilities to notify potentially exposed individuals, determine their immune status, and provide post-exposure prophylaxis, including preventive vaccination or immune globulin, to at-risk individuals when warranted.”
Alpha News is continuing to investigate the outbreak and what Children’s is doing to limit further exposures.