January 25, 2013

Local health officials are reminding area residents to be alert to the symptoms of measles and their medical history regarding the virus. A child who arrived in Marion County on Friday, Jan. 18, and visited locations in Portland, Salem and Keizer, was diagnosed with measles on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. The individual was infectious since Jan. 18.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is transmitted through the air primarily after a person with measles coughs or sneezes. Despite being contagious, the risk of catching the disease is low in large indoor spaces or outdoors. Situations similar to this one have rarely resulted in new local measles cases because more than 95 percent of people living in this region have been vaccinated for measles and are immune.

However, measles is a potentially serious infection that can cause a rash illness with fever in infants under 12 months and in people who have not been vaccinated nor had the disease before. For that reason, people who may have visited or worked in the following locations at the following times should be alert to symptoms and call their health provider if they have any questions. These include:

  • Marshalls store at Keizer Station, 6365 Ulali Dr N.E., on Jan. 20 between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Target, 6450 Keizer Station Blvd N.E., on Jan. 20 between 3 and 7 p.m.
  • Walgreens, 4380 Commercial St. S.E. in Salem on Jan. 22 between 2:30 to 5 p.m.
  • OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital main lobby and 7th floor clinics on Jan. 23 between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Symptoms of measles include:  Fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes followed by a red rash that begins at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. If you suspect measles please call your healthcare provider or urgent care for telephone advice on how to proceed so you don’t expose others.

“Immunization is the best way to prevent measles and its spread,’’ said Dr. Karen Landers, Marion County Health Officer. “Now is a good time to make sure that you and your children’s measles vaccinations are up-to-date.”