Measles case confirmed in Multnomah County

Measles case confirmed in Multnomah County

"If the measles virus is introduced from overseas into populations that have not had the vaccination, it will spread very widely since measles is probably the most contagious virus we know", says Schaffner. Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be instantly deadly if unaddressed - and it is the young children that suffer the most because they are unprotected.

Officials still are not sure where this Pacific Northwest outbreak began. The first known patient sought medical care on December 31, but it is unknown if others were sick before that and chose not to seek treatment. Doctors say it's a red alert for anyone in King County who has not been vaccinated against measles.

To date, a single case of measles was reported in BC in 2019 in an adult traveller returning from the Philippines. Herd immunity happens when unvaccinated individuals are protected from infection because nearly everyone around them has been vaccinated and is immune to a disease.

Anti-vaccination propaganda has already led to province-wide measles outbreaks in 2014 and 2010, and the BCCDC is understandably concerned about another as the disease spreads through the neighbouring states.

Data on Portland's vaccination rate for both shots wasn't immediately available.

In B.C., children receive two doses of measles-containing vaccine, with the first after 12 months and the second at four years of age. Of those, just 1 percent had medical exemptions, while a massive 7 percent objected due to "personal or religious reasons".

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Symptoms of measles can appear 10 to 14 days after exposure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

After someone is exposed to measles, illness develops in about one to three weeks. The measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after someone leaves the area.

Marissa Armstrong with Clark County Public Health said people who have measles symptoms should contact their health care provider ahead of going into a clinic.

The Health District sent out a list of locations the patient had visited between January 12 and January 19, and where the patient may have possibly exposed others to the virus.

Earlier this week, authorities were successful in identifying several people who had been exposed but were not sick yet. Serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise from the disease in some cases.

"Some people say, 'Why would you get vaccinated for something that is no worse than a cold?'" says Leman.

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