PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Since July there have been 9 new measles cases reported in Multnomah and Clackamas counties, all in people who were not vaccinated.
But health officials noted they’re confident there’s been no public exposure.
“Since July we’ve had several new cases of measles between Clackamas and Multnomah counties. None of those resulted in exposures to the public, so we’ve worked directly with people who may have been exposed to make sure they’re staying on symptom watch and making sure they know not to be around others once they become sick,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, the deputy health officer for Multnomah County.
Measles cause a runny nose, cough and a high fever followed by a whole body rash. Less frequent symptoms include hearing loss, blindness, pneumonia and brain infection.
She said they do detailed interviews with people to find out exactly where they were when they might have been contagious.
“As far as we know right now,” she said, “it has only spread through very close social contact, not through any kind of passing public exposure.”
If they’re confident there’s been no public exposure, Vines said they’ll work directly with those they think might be at risk to get the measles.
The reason they announced these cases at this time is to emphasize “putting vaccinations on parents’ back-to-school to-do list,” she said. “Make sure your school and child care-aged household members are up-to-date. Make sure adults in your household are up-to-date.”
Amila Ferron’s 2 children are getting “excited” to go back to school into 1st- and 3rd-grade.
She said the measles don’t worry her because her kids are vaccinated.
“It can feel like a hard decision as a parent sometimes,” Ferron said. “I’ve chosen and their dad has chosen to vaccinate fully and that feels safe for us, definitely.”
Vines said it’s hard to predict measles outbreaks but they’re becoming part of their daily work at the health department.
Two of these cases were confirmed by the Oregon Health Authority as of August 14, bringing to 23 the total number of measles cases in 3 separate outbreaks this year. That’s the most since 1991, when nearly 100 measles cases were reported.
“My hope is that people will hear the message, see their health care providers, be reassured that vaccines are safe and effective,” she told KOIN 6 News. “We can boost our community immunity so that if the measles virus does land here it just has nowhere to go, nowhere to spread.”
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