State has already spent $1.5 million in past year on measles, TB
Minnesota pays out millions every year in welfare for refugees, but there are secondary costs that never get tabulated.
In fiscal 2017, which ended last last week, the state spent $1.5 million to combat three infectious disease outbreaks — including the largest measles outbreak in three decades, which was concentrated in the Somali refugee community. And health officials notified legislative leaders this week that they want to tap a special public-health fund to offset additional costs.
Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Health commissioner, told the Star-Tribune his department will need another $600,000 for fiscal 2018 to help control the spread of measles, drug-resistant tuberculosis and syphilis.
The state has had 78 confirmed cases of measles this year, in an outbreak that began in March. Of those 78 cases, 64 have been in the Somali refugee community. The outbreak is now showing signs of being under control, with no new cases reported this month. But the costs continue to pile up.
Health Department officials want $100,445 to continue prevention work. About half the money would go toward hiring a “temporary employee” to conduct outreach to the Somali community, including efforts to increase measles vaccination rates, the Star-Tribune reported.