Community members urged to protect against measles

Community members urged to protect against measles
Posted on 01/22/2019
Numerous cases of measles in Southwest Washington have prompted Lane County Public Health (LCPH) to issue a health alert to health professionals, as well as the general public. At present, 22 cases are confirmed, all in Washington residents. Because the cases traveled widely in the Portland metro area during their communicable period, additional cases may occur in Oregon. Known public exposures continue to be updated on Clark County’s site, linked below. Check this website for the most up to date list of public exposures:

“Given the proximity of these cases to Lane County, the amount of travel that happens daily between us and the greater Portland Metro area, and the particularly contagious nature of measles, we are concerned about the risk of exposure,” said Lane County Senior Public Health Officer Patrick Luedtke, M.D.  

Measles is a potentially severe viral infection that in rare cases can cause encephalitis (infection of the brain), pneumonia, and low birth weight in babies born to infected women. The symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected. Measles typically begins with a high fever, cough, runny nose (coryza) and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis). Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth.

Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104° Fahrenheit. After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

“Fortunately, we have a very good vaccine to protect against measles, and there is no shortage of that vaccine here in Lane County,” added Luedtke.

The MMR vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. LCPH recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination. The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93 percent effective. Children may also get MMRV vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). This vaccine is only licensed for use in children who are 12 months through 12 years of age.

In addition to vaccination, community members can help prevent the spread of measles by staying home if they’re sick, covering their cough or sneeze, washing hands frequently, and disposing of tissue paper used for coughing or sneezing. 

In order to decrease exposure to others: anyone who might show symptoms of measles should call for medical advice before going to an emergency department, doctor’s office, urgent care office, or the Public Health Department.

For more information about measles, please visit: