Officials Warn of Washington-Oregon Measles Outbreak
It starts with high fever and red eyes, followed by a rash that starts on the head and moves down the body. It’s not the flu, it’s the measles. There’s a serious outbreak of the highly contagious disease in Washington and Oregon. Initial reports were in Portland, Oregon, and nearby Vancouver, Washington. As of Monday, 35 confirmed measles cases were reported in Washington State. Officials are not sure where the outbreak began, but worry that people might have been exposed at public areas, including the Portland International Airport and a Portland Trail Blazers basketball game.
Dr. John Lynch, Medical Director of Infection Control at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said measles can spread rapidly and the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine has been very effective against the disease. In an interview from University of Washington Medical, he said measles is "one of the most contagious, if not the most contagious, viruses we know about. If you take an un-immunized group of people and you expose them to measles, about nine out of ten will become infected. When people cough or have those droplets coming out of their mouth, and they're inhaled by someone else is how measles is transmitted. But it's also important to realize that as people cough and things go onto the surface, other people can touch those with their hands, touch their nose and their mouth and spread the measles that way. So, actually, a room is potentially contagious for a couple of hours after a person with measles leaves it."
Though no cases have been reported outside of Oregon and Washington, officials in Idaho have been warned to be on the lookout. So, what do you do if you think you have the measles? Dr. Lynch advises you to limit exposure to others. Call your physician first to limit your exposure to others in the waiting room. Washington State has more information at a measles website.