Measles case confirmed – public has ‘little to fear’

April 6, 2011

The Hood River County Health Department has positively confirmed a case of measles in a Hood River adult. At this time, no additional cases have been diagnosed, and this is not considered an outbreak.

The ill person was infectious from March 25 through April 2. The incubation period ranges from 7-18 days from exposure to early symptoms, but is usually 10-12 days after exposure. More cases are unlikely, but might develop between April 1 and 20.

Dr. Paul Cieslak of the Oregon Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Program comments that "because we've been able to achieve such high immunization rates, and as long as we're able to maintain them, Americans have little to fear from measles: the vast majority of us are immune - so much so that measles has become a rarity."

In Hood River, about 75 percent of 2-year-olds have received all of their recommended immunizations, and 90 percent of have received their first MMR, the immunization for measles.

Health officials also note that 92 percent of kindergarten and 97 percent of seventh-grade students in Hood River have received the full two-dose MMR sequence.

The current case is a reminder to all to obtain immunization for vaccine-preventable disease.

Measles, which was prevalent prior to nationwide vaccination efforts begun in 1963, is a potentially serious disease characterized by a fever, fatigue, rash and one or more of the following symptoms: cough, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and nasal congestion. Symptoms begin 7-18 days after exposure.

The health department has contacted individuals who were in public places or the physician's office where they might have been exposed and provided appropriate additional immunization or immune globulin.

"We do want to prevent the spread of this disease and ensure that people are immunized," said Trish Elliott, nurse supervisor for the Hood River County Health Department.

The affected adult male was in two public locations in Hood River on March 26 and March 28, as well as a physician's office on March 28 and March 29.

The measles patient also flew between JFK airport in New York and Portland on Delta flight 2134 on March 25. The Center for Disease Control is coordinating efforts to address any potential exposures occurring during that flight.

The infected Hood River resident was in the following two locations while contagious:

Bette's Place, 416 Oak St., on March 26 from 11 a.m. to noon. Because measles virus can remain airborne after an ill person coughs or sneezes, there was a risk of exposure for people in the restaurant between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Walgreen's Drug Store, 1727 12th St., on March 28 from 4:30-5 p.m. The risk of exposure was from 4:30-7 p.m.

Most people in our community have been protected from measles by their routine vaccinations for measles. However, measles is highly contagious and anyone not immune to measles is at significant risk if they were in the same room with the person from March 25 until April 1.

Pregnant women, children under a year old and immune-compromised persons who have no antibodies to measles are at highest risk if exposed. These persons, if exposure is suspected, are advised to call the health department immediately for information and assistance at 541-386-1115.

The Hood River County Health Department recommends that persons potentially exposed at the above locations take these steps:

Determine if you might be susceptible to measles. Most people are immune. People are considered immune if they: Were born before Jan. 1, 1957; Have had two measles shots, typically given as a Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR); Have had measles diagnosed by a health care provider, or Have had a blood test showing they are immune.

If you were exposed and NOT immune, call your health care provider or Hood River County Health Department for advice.

Persons potentially exposed to measles who have had only a single dose of vaccine are advised to receive a second dose.

Anyone who develops fever with a rash should call ahead to their health care provider's office to avoid exposing others in the office.

Oregon's last confirmed case was in 2008. Hood River County has had no confirmed cases for the past 20 years. The recommended routine schedule for MMR is:

Pre-school children: One dose between 12 and 15 months. If traveling overseas between 6 and 11 months, a dose may be given earlier than 12 months.

Children in grade K-12 and post-high school educational institutions: Two doses

Women of child-bearing age: Two doses

International travelers: Two doses.

Adults who lack immunity to any of the three viruses in MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) are eligible for 2 doses of MMR.

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