Clark County Public Health investigates measles case

Child with contagious virus visited Vancouver urgent care clinic on New Year’s Eve

Clark County Public Health is investigating a confirmed case of measles in a child who traveled from outside the country to Clark County in late December.

County health officials say people who visited the clinic and waiting area at PeaceHealth Memorial Urgent Care, at 3400 Main St., in Vancouver, between noon and 5:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 31, may have been exposed to measles.

Clark County Public Health is advising anyone who has been exposed and believes they have symptoms of measles to call their health care provider prior to visiting the medical office to make a plan that avoids exposing others in the waiting room.

County health officials say measles is a highly contagious and potentially serious illness caused by a virus that is spread through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes. A person with measles can spread the virus before they show symptoms. The virus also can linger in the air after someone who is infectious has left.

Immunization is the best protection against measles. One dose of the measles vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles. Two doses are about 97 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles poses the highest risk to people who have not been vaccinated, including infants younger than 12 months. Persons are likely immune to measles if they were born before 1957, are certain they have had measles, or are up to date on measles vaccines (one dose for children 12 months through 3 years old, two doses in anyone 4 years and older).

After someone is exposed, illness develops in about one to three weeks.

Measles symptoms begin with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a rash that usually begins at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. People are contagious with measles for four days before the rash appears and up to four days after the rash appears.

Measles can be serious in all age groups. However, children younger than 5 years and adults older than 20 years are more likely to suffer from measles complications. Common complications of measles include ear infection, lung infection and diarrhea. Swelling of the brain is a rare but much more serious complication. Measles may cause pregnant women to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby. For every 1,000 children with measles, one or two will die from the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were nearly 300 reported cases of measles in the United States in 2018, including cases in Washington and Oregon.

Anyone with questions about measles infection or the measles vaccine should call their primary care provider or Clark County Public Health at 564.397.8182.

To learn more, visit doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Measles or cdc.gov/measles.