Published On: Fri, Jun 27th, 2014

Seattle-area measles outbreak being investigated

Local public health officials are investigating eight confirmed cases of measles among members of the same extended family in south King County, and a single suspected case in Pierce County. These cases are linked to another case who returned to the United States from the Pacific Islands on May 26th with measles.

Given the unfolding investigation and uncertainty about places where the people with measles may have visited, anyone residing in south King County or Pierce County should:

  • be aware that measles cases are occurring in the community,
  • be up to date on measles vaccine,
  • and follow the recommendations below if they develop symptoms of measles.

Known public exposures occurred at several MultiCare healthcare facilities where the infected individuals were treated, including a hospital in Tacoma. Details about these exposures will be updated regularly at the MultiCare website. These medical facilities are directly contacting persons who were present – clients, visitors, and staff – during the times of potential exposure .

Measles rash Image/CDC

Measles rash

Public health officials are requesting that health care providers increase their awareness and preparedness for measles cases in the community, including taking appropriate infection control measures to minimize exposure to other patients and staff.

Members of the south King County household were unvaccinated because they were too young to receive the vaccine or simply missed their vaccinations.

Public Health—Seattle & King County is working closely with a community from Micronesia connected to the outbreak and is conducting extensive outreach to ensure as many people as possible in this community are vaccinated.

What to do if you were potentially exposed to measles

Anyone who lives or works in south King County should be alert for an illness with fever or illness with an unexplained rash, for at least the next three weeks. A combination of these signs or symptoms is a strong indicator of measles: fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes.

Now is a good time to confirm whether or not you’ve been vaccinated for measles or have had measles previously. Since most people in our area have immunity to the measles through vaccination, the risk to the general public is low.

Anyone with symptoms of measles is being instructed to:

  • Call a health care provider promptly and tell them you want to be evaluated for measles
  • To avoid possibly spreading measles to other patients, you should NOT go to a clinic or hospital without calling first.

People without a regular healthcare provider who think they might have measles can contact their local health departments at the numbers below:

  • King County residents should call the Measles Hotline at 206-296-4949
  • Pierce County residents should call 253-798-6410, option “0”

For those without insurance or a regular provider, the following healthcare facilities have agreed to provide vaccine (with a small administrative fee) for walk-in patients:

  • SeaMar Burien: Mon.-Sat. from 8am-5pm
  • SeaMar Kent: Mon.-Fri. from 8am-5pm
  • SeaMar White Center: Mon.-Fri. from 8am-5pm
  • SeaMar Bellevue: Mon.-Sat. from 8am-5pm
  • SeaMar Seattle: Mon.-Sat. from 8am-5pm

About measles

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes. It is mainly spread through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes.

Measles symptoms begin seven to 21 days after exposure. Measles is contagious from approximately four days before the rash appears through four days after the rash appears. People can spread measles before they have the characteristic measles rash.

People at highest risk from exposure to measles include those who are unvaccinated, pregnant women, infants under six months of age and those with weakened immune systems.

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  1. Measles warning for travelers to Micronesia issued | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] current measles outbreak in Washington State has been linked to travel to the Pacific […]

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