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About Measles

  • Written by (from Kingo County Health Department)
Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes. It mainly spreads through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes.
 
Measles symptoms begin seven to 21 days after exposure to someone with measles. 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.
 
Measles complications can include ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and rarely, encephalitis (brain inflammation). Complications from measles can happen even in healthy people but those at highest risk include: infants and children under 5 years, adults over 20 years, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems from drugs or underlying disease.  If you are in one of these high risk groups and were exposed to measles, be sure to contact your health care provider to discuss the need for treatment to prevent measles infection. 
 
Measles is preventable with the safe and highly effective measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two doses of the MMR vaccine are more than 95 percent effective in preventing measles and that protection is long lasting.
 
What public health officials are doing?
 
Investigation of infectious diseases is one of the essential services local health departments provide. Public Health – Seattle & King County is working in close coordination with the Washington State Department of Health, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, and Snohomish Health District on measles investigations.
 
Because of increased measles activity nationally, health departments throughout Washington state are also alerting healthcare providers and working with schools and communities to provide education about preventing measles. 
What to do if you were in a location of potential measles exposure ?
 
Most people in our area have immunity to the measles through vaccination, so the risk to the general public is low. However, anyone who was in the locations of potential exposure to measles around the times listed  should:
1) Find out if you have been vaccinated for measles or have had measles previously.
 
2)  Call a healthcare provider promptly if you develop an illness with fever or illness with an unexplained rash. To avoid possibly spreading measles to others, do not go to a clinic or hospital without calling first to tell them you want to be evaluated for measles.
 
3)Vaccination or medication can be given after exposure in some cases to prevent illness – check with your healthcare provider.  This is especially important for people at high risk for measles complications (see below).
Measles symptoms could appear starting from seven days after the first exposure to twenty-one days after the last exposure to someone with measles. A rash is most likely to appear a few days after the fever, ten to twelve days after an exposure.
 
Transmission of measles can occur before people know they have the disease, before any rash appears.
 
The measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after someone infectious with measles leaves the area. 
 
A confirmed case of measles has been reported at North Creek High School. The Northshore School District is urging families to monitor their children for signs of measles.  Students who have not been immunized have been informed they can’t return to school until June 3.
 
The student attended North Creek High School May 6 - 10 and attended AMC Woodinville Theaters May 11 from 8 pm - 2 am. 
To see all of the places and dates where the individual went to, please go to
www.snohd.org/measles

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