Simplified: Measles cases are on the rise. The disease hasn't shown up in South Dakota yet, but here's what local doctors are watching and want parents to know.

Why it matters

  • Measles was widely considered an eradicated disease, but cases are back on the rise largely due to an increase in vaccine hesitancy and disruptions to usual well-child visits caused by the pandemic.
  • There are at least 20 cases in the upper Midwest right now, mostly in Minnesota, said Dr. Leah Heidenreich, a Sanford pediatrician.
  • It might not sound like much, but measles is highly contagious. And often the early symptoms are similar to other less-severe respiratory illnesses, making it tough to identify until it's already progressed quite a bit.
"It's hard to know it's measles until you see that rash," Heidenreich said.

What does measles look like?

Symptoms start like many other respiratory illnesses, which is part of what makes measles so dangerous and easy to spread.

  • It may start with a fever or cough – not unlike lots of other prevalent viruses going around right now including RSV and coronavirus.

But where measles differs is when a rash develops a few days after symptoms start.

What do parents need to know right now?

Two things, Heidenreich said.

  1. Make sure your kids are up to date on vaccines. It's never too late to catch up on vaccines missed for whatever reason.
  2. If your kid is sick, keep them home. Children who have a respiratory illness should stay home until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
"Measles is a deadly disease, so it shouldn't be taken lightly," Heidenreich said.