Public Health investigating confirmed measles case in Clark County

The child returned to Clark County on Nov. 14 after traveling internationally to a country where a measles outbreak is occurring

VANCOUVER — Clark County Public Health is investigating a confirmed case of measles in a child 1 to 10 years old who is unvaccinated. The child returned to Clark County on Nov. 14 after traveling internationally to a country where a measles outbreak is occurring.

The child visited Portland International Airport and two area hospitals while contagious. People who visited the locations listed below may have been exposed to measles.

Public Health is advising anyone who may have been exposed and believes they have symptoms of measles to call their health care provider prior to visiting the medical office to make a plan that avoids exposing others in the waiting room. Those who are susceptible and were exposed could develop symptoms from Nov. 18 to Dec. 9.

People who visited the following locations may have been exposed to measles:

  • Portland International Airport, Concourse E, north end of lower level, including restrooms and baggage claim, from 10:30 am to noon Thu., Nov. 14.
  • PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, 400 NE Mother Joseph Place, Vancouver from 12:45 to 5:05 pm Thu., Nov. 14.
  • Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, 2801 N Gantenbein Ave., Portland from 11:50 pm Sat., Nov. 16 to 4:25 am Sun., Nov. 17.

“This is an unfortunate reminder that measles is only a plane, car, bus or train ride away,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Public Health director and county health officer. “Immunization is the best way to protect yourself and the community from measles.”

One dose of the measles vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles. Two doses are about 97 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Clark County has had 72 confirmed measles cases this year. Earlier this year, Public Health led a monthslong response to a local measles outbreak that sickened 71 people. Public Health declared the outbreak over on April 29, after six weeks with no new cases.

About measles

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially serious illness caused by a virus. It is spread through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes. A person with measles can spread the virus before they show symptoms. The virus also can linger in the air after someone who is infectious has left.

Measles poses the highest risk to people who have not been vaccinated, including infants younger than 12 months. Persons are likely immune (not susceptible) to measles if any of the following apply:

  1. They were born before 1957.
  2. They have a previous measles diagnosis.
  3. They are up to date on measles vaccines (one dose for children 12 months through 3 years old, two doses in anyone 4 years and older).

After someone is exposed, illness develops in about one to three weeks.

Measles symptoms begin with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a rash that usually begins at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. People are contagious with measles for four days before the rash appears and up to four days after the rash appears.

Measles can be serious in all age groups. However, children younger than 5 years and adults older than 20 years are more likely to suffer from measles complications. Common complications of measles include ear infection, lung infection and diarrhea. Swelling of the brain is a rare but much more serious complication. Measles may cause pregnant women to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby. For every 1,000 children with measles, one or two will die from the disease.

Anyone with questions about measles infection or the measles vaccine should call their primary care provider or their local county health department:

  • Clark County Public Health, (564) 397-8182.
  • Multnomah County Public Health, (503) 988-3406
  • Washington County Public Health, (503) 846-3594
  • Clackamas County Public Health, (503) 655-8411

Learn More

Washington State Department of Health: www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Measles

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/measles

Information provided by Clark Co. WA Communications.

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