COMMUNICABLE DISEASE IN THE NEWS!
You may recently have heard about the declaration of a public health emergency related to a Measles Outbreak in Clark County, Washington, largely attributed to unvaccinated populations with more than 30 cases of measles identified thus far. You may have also read that the outbreak has recently spread to Oregon. You can find more information on potential exposure locations regarding this outbreak by accessing the Clark County Measles Investigation page or Multnomah County Measles Outbreak page. While most of the exposures have been in Washington, there are several Oregon sites listed as well.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that can cause serious complications. Measles is spread by those who are infected coughing and sneezing, but measles can live in the air or on surfaces for a couple of hours after an ill person has been coughing or sneezing. Symptoms typically appear about 14 days after exposure and causes high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Two or three days after symptoms begin tiny white spots, called Koplik spots, appear in the mouth. Two to five days after infection the measles rash develops. The rash typically begins as flat red sport that appearn on the face and hairline and spread down the neck to the trunk, arms, legs and feet. Small raised bumps may appear on top of flat red spots. The red spots become joined together and the spread all of the body. When the rash appears the individual's fever may spike to more than 104° Fahrenheit. This lasts for a few days and typically subsides. However some individuals may have minor complications such as ear infections and severe diarrhea, and others are at risk of significant complications such as pneummia, encephaltitis or death. Long-term Complications include subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), this is a very rare, but fatal disease of the central nervous system that results from a measles virus infection acquired earlier in life. SSPE generally develops 7 to 10 years after a person has measles, even though the person seems to have fully recovered from the illness. Since measles was eliminated in 2000, SSPE is rarely reported in the United States. But the comeback of measles causes concern for the development of new cases in the future.
The single best way to prevent measles infection is to be vaccinated. Two measles vaccines, which is the recommended series, is 97% effective, even a single dose is about 93% effective. Before the increase in vaccine exemptions, measles was rarely seen in the US. Do to the increased number of unvaccinated indidivuals, this disease is once again on the rise.
It is important to be vaccinated if you are able to. Some individuals cannot be vaccinated because of severe allergies to vaccines ingredients or because of complex health issues. The individuals rely on their communities being vaccinated to protect them.
Because individuals who are unvaccinated are at risk of acquiring and spreading measles, during a measles outbreak the law allows and the school holds the public health responsibility to exlcude unvaccinated children for maximum incubation periods.
For more information on measles immunization, please speak with your medical provider or visit the CDC web page.
For more information on measles please visit The Top 4 Things Parents Need to Know about Measles.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (2019) Measles. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/signs-symptoms.html