Measles Update from County Health Officer

Mason County’s Health Officer, Dr. Diana Yu, provided the following update on the measles outbreak in the state.

Emerging and re- emerging diseases are a constant reminder that we should not take our health status for granted. There have been 38 confirmed cases of Rubeola (hard measles) since early January, 2019. The outbreak started in Clark County, WA and has spread to King County, WA, Multnomah Co, Oregon and now to Hawaii. Due to highly contagious nature of this disease, neighboring county health officials are on alert for more cases over the next few weeks.

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness usually beginning with a fever, cold symptoms, cough, and sensitive eyes. After 2 – 4 days, a rash begins on the face/ neck and spreads to the rest of the body. Symptoms can begin from 8- 21 days after exposure. Patients with a streptococcal sore throat and/ or other viral illnesses with a rash are commonly seen this time of year and can sometimes be confused with measles. In general, patients with measles are more severely ill. Persons who have no immunity against measles are at highest risk.

Outbreaks of measles in the 1990′ s involving college- age students and adults pointed to the risk of diminishing protection from a single dose of measles vaccine. Since 1992, a second dose of measles vaccine has been recommended for all children. Washington State law requires that all students show proof of a second dose of measles vaccine.

In the event that we have a confirmed case of measles, children and staff in schools with no proof of immunity will be excluded from school for their own protection.

To decrease the chances of spreading this disease in our community, I am encouraging at- risk individuals to be fully vaccinated against this disease. If you suspect that someone in your household has symptoms of measles, please call your personal health care provider immediately. STAY HOME and do not expose others. To prevent spread of disease, always call ahead to alert medical staff before going to a clinic or hospital if you suspect measles. A medical evaluation and/ or laboratory tests need to be done to determine if it is measles. All suspect and confirmed cases of measles need to be reported to the Mason County Communicable Disease reporting line immediately at 360) 427- 9670 ext 274.

Current vaccination recommendation

  • Children should receive their first MMR between 12 and 15 months of age, unless contraindicated.
  • All children should receive a second Measles vaccine. They can receive this anytime at least one month after the first MMR. The second dose is typically given at entry into Kindergarten.
  • College- age individuals should have a second MMR, if they have not had two since their first birthday.
  • Adults born after 1957 should check their immunization records to make sure they got their measles vaccine after 1968, and after 1 year of age. Most adults born prior to 1957 have had measles as a child. However, if you know you never had measles and were never vaccinated, it is safer to go ahead and get the vaccine, regardless of age.
  • If vaccination is contraindicated for you, make sure those that come in contact with you are fully vaccinated.
  • Anyone who has had Rubeola disease is immune against it for life.

For some folks, vaccination may be contraindicated, discuss with your personal health care provider if you are a:

  • person with an immune disorder and are unable to produce immunity
  • person who has received Immune globulin shot within the last 6 months
  • person who is pregnant or planning pregnancy in next 3 months
  • person with a history of severe allergic reaction to vaccine or eggs.
  • person who is choosing not to receive the vaccine