Measles diagnosed in Marion County individual; people in Portland, Keizer and Salem should be alert to medical history and symptoms
January 24, 2013 -- On Jan. 22, 2013, local public health officials were informed that an individual who arrived in Marion County on Jan. 18 was diagnosed with the measles. The individual, who had traveled internationally, started to exhibit symptoms and was diagnosed Wednesday,, Jan. 23, at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. The individual was infectious since Jan. 18.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is transmitted through the air primarily after a person with measles coughs or sneezes. Despite being contagious, risk of catching the disease is low in large indoor spaces or outdoors. Situations similar to this one have rarely resulted in new local measles cases because more than 95 percent of people living in this region have been vaccinated for the measles and are immune.
Measles, however, is a potentially serious infection that can cause a rash illness with fever in infants and in people who have not been vaccinated nor had the disease before. For that reason, people who may have visited or worked in the following locations at the following times should be alert for symptoms and review their measles vaccination and medical history. These include:
- Marshalls store at Keizer Station, 6365 Ulali Dr N.E., on Jan. 20 between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
- Target, 6450 Keizer Station Blvd N.E., on Jan. 20 between 3 and 7 p.m.
- Walgreens, 4380 Commercial St SE in Salem on Jan. 22 between 2:30 to 5 p.m.
- OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital main lobby and 7th floor clinics on Jan. 23 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Any person present in these locations on these days and times should be alert to symptoms and call their health care provider if they have any questions. Symptoms of the measles include: Fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes followed by a red rash that begins at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.
People are considered immune to measles if they have medical evidence of past disease or have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine (MMR vaccine) given at least one month apart. Also, anyone born before Jan. 1, 1957 is considered immune.
“Measles is a serious disease that has been mostly eliminated from circulation in the United States due to routine childhood vaccination,” says Dr. Karen Landers, Marion County Health Officer. “When we see cases of measles, they are rare and usually occur as a result of exposure outside the country. Because measles is so contagious, high levels of immunity in the community are needed to prevent its spread”.
People who are at high risk of getting seriously ill include: infants under 12 months old, pregnant women who are not immune from prior vaccination and non-vaccinated individuals with poor functioning immune systems who have never had the measles.
People who are not immune and at risk of getting measles can get measles-containing vaccine from their medical provider or by calling Marion County Health Department at 503 584-4870 for an appointment. Getting vaccinated now may not prevent illness in the current situation, but will prevent measles in the future.
People are contagious with measles for two days before the rash develops and for up to four days after the rash develops. Anyone who has been exposed and believes they have symptoms of measles should contact their health care provider or urgent care by telephone to avoid exposing others.
“Immunization is the best protection against measles” says Dr. Landers. “Now is a very good time to make sure you and your children have been vaccinated against measles.”