Second Measles case confirmed in Multnomah County

July 6, 2018

Multnomah County health officials confirmed Friday a second case of measles.

An individual diagnosed Friday, July 6 had been in close contact with an individual diagnosed with measles on June 27. Multnomah County Communicable Disease Services alerted the second individual of the exposure and made sure that person stayed at home and away from others. The second individual was in daily contact with Multnomah County’s team to check for symptoms.

“This individual did exactly the right thing,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County’s deputy health officer. “When this person began having symptoms, they called us immediately. And we worked together to get the individual health care in a way that did not expose anyone else to the virus. This is how we stop outbreaks.”

On June 27, Multnomah County confirmed a case of measles in the Portland metro area — the first since 2014.

The Health Department’s Communicable Disease Services team confirmed that case in a person who spent time in a Gresham child care center and visited the Adventist Health Portland emergency room. The person is believed to have been infected with measles while traveling outside the country. Multnomah County Health Department staff notified individuals of their potential exposure and offered a just-in-time vaccine to some exposed people.

The most recent case did not have documentation of prior immunizations. The person who traveled abroad did have vaccine records.

“The Measles vaccine one of the most effective vaccines we have,” Vines said. “But no vaccine is 100 percent.”

A team of nurses and epidemiologists continue to check in daily with about 40 individuals who were exposed and are considered non-immune. For this exposure, public health officials expect symptoms in anyone newly infected to appear by mid-July at the latest.

Multnomah County Health Department officials worked closely with Adventist Health Portland, the childcare center, and others to notify people who were in the same locations as the sick person.

Measles is easy to catch. But vaccines are very effective.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially serious illness caused by a virus. It 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 can also linger in the air after someone who is infectious has left.

Measles poses the highest risk to people who have not been vaccinated, pregnant women, infants under 12 months and people with weakened immune systems. A person is considered immune to measles if any of the following apply:

  1. You were born before 1957
  2. You are certain you have had the measles
  3. You are up-to-date on measles vaccines (one dose for children age 12 months through three years old, two doses in anyone four years and older).

After someone is exposed, illness develops in about 2 weeks, sometimes longer. The symptoms of measles start 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.

Common complications of measles include ear infection, lung infection, or diarrhea. Swelling of the brain is a rare but much more serious complication. For every 1000 children with measles, 1 or 2 will die from the disease.

Multnomah County Health Department is advising anyone who has been exposed and believes they have symptoms of measles to call your healthcare provider ahead of time to make a plan that avoids exposing others in waiting rooms.

Anyone with questions about measles infection or the measles vaccine should call their primary care provider or their county health department:

  • Multnomah County Public Health 503-988-3406
  • Clark County Public Health 360-397-8182
  • Clackamas County Public Health 503-655-8411
  • Washington County 503-846-3594

Learn More

The CDC: Check out basic information for parents, travelers and healthcare professions, like this handout in English and Spanish.

Communicable Disease Services: Find out more about Measles, vaccines and download handouts in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese or Somali.

School Immunizations: Immunizations are required by state law for children at public and private schools, preschools and childcare centers.