Clark County confirms 23 cases of measles

Clark County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Clark County measles outbreak has now grown to 23 confirmed cases since Jan. 1.

Eighteen of the cases involve people who were not immunized. 

A public health emergency was declared Friday after the 19th case was confirmed. 

Public health officials have said even one case of measles is considered an outbreak because the expected number of cases is zero. 

“It’s an outbreak because generally the way we define an outbreak is when you have more observed cases than expected cases and generally with measles the expected number is zero,” Dr. Alan Melnick with Clark County Public Health said last week. “You know, we have a very effective vaccine for measles. Two shots are 97% effective. We really shouldn’t be seeing measles.”

Clark County Public Health said 18 of the cases are children 1-10 years old. Four are 11 to 18 years old and one case is an adult between 19 and 29.

One person has been hospitalized. There are also three suspected cases. 

Dr. Jonathan Mou at Adventist Health said while the virus is highly contagious, it’s also one of the most preventable. 

“Once it sets into a community, the likelihood of it getting beyond that community or more widespread within that community is high, especially when vaccination rates are low,” Mou said.

Mou said some people aren’t able to get the vaccine due to immune system issues or an allergic reaction, so if you can get the shot, it won’t just help you. 

“I think that when people recognize that we’re trying to prevent diseases early on that the pendulum will swing the other direction,” Mou said. 

New locations have also been identified as potential exposure sites:

> Kaiser Cascade Park Medical Office, 12607 SE Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver from 12:30 to 7:30 pm Saturday, Jan. 19. 

> Dollar Tree, 7809-B Vancouver Plaza Drive, Vancouver from 6:30 to 9:10 pm Tuesday, Jan. 15.

> Portland International Airport, baggage claim and south end of the ticket counter (near Alaska Airlines and Starbucks), 7000 NE Airport Way, Portland from 7:30 to 11 pm Tuesday, Jan. 15.

> GracePoint Christian Church, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm Monday, Jan. 7. 

> Dollar Tree, 11501 NE 76th St., Vancouver from 8:10 to 10:50 pm Tuesday, Jan. 15. 

> Costco, 4849 NE 138th Ave., Portland from 5:30 to 8:40 pm Wednesday, Jan. 16. 

Anyone who may have been exposed and believes they are having measles symptoms should call their doctor before going to the clinic and make a plan to avoid exposing other people. 

Evergreen Public Schools has advised any unvaccinated people who may have been exposed to the measles not attend school or school events. They want to restrict those exposed from Evergreen High School, Hearthwood and Image Elementary Schools until Jan. 30 and Orchards Elementary until Feb. 5.

Complete list of possible exposure sites 
Call center for exposure questions — 360.397.8021

About the measles

Measles is highly contagious, potentially serious and can be spread through coughs or sneezes. Immunization is the best protection against measles. The Centers for Disease Control say one dose of the measles vaccine is about 93% effective, and 2 doses are 97% effective.

Measles symptoms

> Fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, rash that starts at the head and spreads to the body. 
> People are contagious 4 days before rash shows up and 4 days after rash appears

Other information

>  Children younger than 5, adults older than 20 most likely to suffer complications
>  Complications include ear and/or lung infections, diarrhea, possible brain swelling
>  Pregnant women may give birth early
>  1-2 children of every 1,000 with measles will die from it

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