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Second measles case confirmed in Pierce County today

July 9, 2014

Person infected with measles visited local grocery store, Tacoma General Emergency Department

TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department received confirmation today of Pierce County’s second case of measles. The infected person visited a Tacoma Albertson’s grocery store and Tacoma General during the busy holiday weekend.

The young adult woman, who had been in close contact with the county’s first case, was in the following locations while infectious with measles:

Date

Time Period of Concern

Facility

July 3

Noon-2:30 p.m.

Albertson’s, 111 S. 38th Street, Tacoma

July 3

5-11:30 p.m.

Tacoma General Hospital Emergency Department

July 4

2 a.m.-3 p.m.  

Tacoma General Hospital Emergency Department

People who visited these locations at the time period of concern should contact their regular health care provider to let them know they were exposed to the measles. In addition, Tacoma General is directly contacting persons who were present – clients, visitors, and staff – during the times of potential exposure on July 3 and 4. Secondary cases emerging from exposures to this case could be seen as early as July 10 or as late as July 21.

Pierce County’s two confirmed cases are part of an ongoing measles outbreak in Washington state and in addition to 10 confirmed cases in King County, since May 30. The King County cases are in a community from Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) where a large measles outbreak is occurring. The first Pierce County case was exposed to one of the King County cases in a Pierce County emergency department on June 10. The health department announced the first case on June 27.

Pierce County residents should check their vaccination records to ensure they are up to date on the measles vaccination, and other important vaccinations.

“Vaccination remains our best protection against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease and emergency preparedness division director at the health department. “Pierce County’s high rate of immunization among school children is helping to reduce the impact of this disease on our entire community.”

Since cases of measles began to circulate in Washington in March, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has issued regular alerts to medical providers urging them to ensure patients are updated on their vaccinations and take appropriate infection control measures to minimize any possible exposure. In addition, the health department provided a letter to school districts to distribute to families asking parents and guardians to ensure their child’s vaccinations were up to date. In Pierce County, the measles vaccination rate among K-12 public and private school children is more than 90 percent.

“Getting vaccinated against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is a step each of us can take to protect our loved ones and the larger community from illnesses that can be deadly for our most vulnerable,” said Turner.

What to do if you think you were potentially exposed to measles
Be alert for an illness with fever or illness with an unexplained rash, for at least the next three weeks. A combination of these signs or symptoms is a strong indicator of measles: fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes.

Now is a good time to confirm whether or not you’ve been vaccinated for measles or have had measles previously. Since most people in our area have immunity to the measles through vaccination, the risk to the general public is low.

Anyone with symptoms of measles should:

  • Call a health care provider promptly and tell them you want to be evaluated for measles.
  • To avoid possibly spreading measles to other patients, you should NOT go to a clinic or hospital without calling first.
  • Pierce County residents without a regular healthcare provider who think they might have measles should call 253-798-6410, option “0.”

If you do not have a regular healthcare provider, you can look up free and low cost vaccine resources for adults and children at www.tpchd.org/immunizations.

About measles
Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes. It is mainly spread through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes. Measles symptoms begin seven to 21 days after exposure. Measles is contagious from approximately four days before the rash appears through four days after the rash appears. People can spread measles before they have the characteristic measles rash.

People at highest risk from exposure to measles include those who are unvaccinated, pregnant women, infants and those with weakened immune systems. Persons born before Jan. 1, 1957 are considered immune to measles from natural exposure. Persons born after that date are considered immune if they have had two doses of measles containing vaccine, serological evidence of immunity, or have had measles disease diagnosed by a medical provider. For more information about measles, visit www.tpchd.org/measles.

Children should be vaccinated with two doses of the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The first dose should be at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at four through six years of age. Infants traveling outside the United States can be vaccinated as early as six months but must receive the full two dose series beginning at 12 months of age. Find more information at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of this effort, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs, and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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