Health Alert: More Measles in Washington State and British Columbia

The Washington State Department of Health says two sets of measles exposures are of concern.

The first involves a San Juan County resident who acquired measles during international travel but who did not travel outside San Juan County during the infectious period. The second and more concerning involves a Whatcom County case with onset of rash March 29. This individual attended a concert in Seattle and multiple other establishments in King and Pierce Counties during the infectious period last week.

This second case is connected to a Whatcom County household harboring several measles cases after one of its members returned from travel to the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, where an outbreak of over 300 cases is ongoing. With sustained transmission occurring in both developing and developed countries, measles cases associated with international travel will continue to be a threat indefinitely.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially serious illness caused by a virus. It is spread through the air after a person who is sick with measles coughs or sneezes.

Because most people in our area have been vaccinated against measles, the risk to the general public and to anyone exposed is low.

Measles poses the highest risk to people who have not been vaccinated, especially pregnant women, infants under 12 months, and people with weakened immune systems.

You are considered immune to measles if ANY of the following apply:
1. You were born before 1957 or;
2. You are certain you have had the measles or;
3. You have been fully vaccinated for measles (two doses of MMR vaccine).

About measles:

• The symptoms of measles start with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes followed by a red rash that 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 starts.
• After someone is exposed, illness usually develops in seven to 14 days. In rare cases, it can take up to up to 28 days for symptoms to occur.
• Anyone who believes they have symptoms of measles should first contact their health care provider or urgent care by telephone to avoid exposing others.