July 13, 2018

Multnomah County health officials have confirmed that a third person with measles symptoms has tested positive for the virus. This is in addition to a related but unconfirmed case under investigation in Clark County, Washington.

A third individual in Multnomah County tested positive for measles July 13. This person was unvaccinated and had been in close contact with a second individual diagnosed with measles on July 6. Multnomah County Communicable Disease Services had alerted this third individual of the exposure and asked the person to stay at home and away from others. The third individual was in daily contact with Multnomah County’s team to check for symptoms.

“Once again our measles response plan worked, thanks to another individual willing to stay away from others and call us at the first sign of symptoms,” said Multnomah County Deputy Health Officer, Dr. Jennifer Vines.

Despite this additional case, Vines said health officials don’t believe anyone one else has been exposed to measles in Multnomah County. Almost all of the people who could have been exposed are now outside of the period when they would show symptoms, and are no longer considered at risk of having been infected with the virus.

About 40 people who came into contact with the original case were asked to stay home and have daily contact with Multnomah County Health Department staff beginning in late June. The Multnomah County team continues to check-in daily with about 8 individuals who were exposed and are considered non-immune. For this exposure, public health officials expect symptoms in anyone newly infected to appear by July 30th at the latest.

Background

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 person spent time in a Gresham child care center and visited a 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 first individual did have vaccine records. A person who spent time with the first individual during the infectious period did not have documentation of prior immunizations. That person tested positive for measles July 6, and has remained home. However, that second individual had been in daily contact with a third individual who also did not have records of prior immunization. And that person tested positive for measles Friday, July 13.

About Measles

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:

  • You were born before 1957
  • You are certain you have had the measles
  • You are up to date on the measles vaccines (one dose for children 12 months through three years, 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