King County Public Health monitoring potential measles case

Apr 18, 2024, 6:14 PM | Updated: Apr 29, 2024, 2:55 pm

Photo: Public Health is investigating a potential measles outbreak....

Public Health is investigating a potential measles outbreak. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7 News)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7 News)

Public Health for Seattle and King County is looking into a potential measles case. Earlier this month, the Washington State Department of Health informed Public Health that a group of 13 international travelers visiting Seattle were exposed to people with measles before coming to Seattle.

On Monday, Public Health reported one of the people developed measles during their quarantine in Seattle and is now recovering and is no longer contagious. The rest of the group have completed their quarantine and there is no public exposure.

Original coverage

Public Health said there are currently no cases of measles within the group or King County, but the department is monitoring the situation for potential outbreaks.

Public Health added that investigators tested the group for measles immunity and gave them instructions on how to watch for symptoms. The group was told to watch for symptoms for at least 21 days.

“In situations like these, our public health teams act quickly to help prevent the spread of measles and connect people to healthcare if needed,” stated Public Health in a news release.

Measles is a “serious disease” that causes a rash and fever, stated Public Health on its website. It can also lead to serious health complications like pneumonia, hearing loss, brain damage and even death.

Public Health also states that King County is “far below the protection we need to prevent the spread.” Only 86% of young children and 75% of 4 to 6-year-olds are up to date on their MMR vaccines, as of March 24, according to the department’s website.

Public Health states that measles can spread quickly in communities with vaccination rates lower than 95%.

“While thankfully no one has become ill with measles yet, this could change. Our teams are keeping a very close eye on the situation,” said Chief of Communicable Disease for Public Health, Dr. Eric Chow. “Measles is highly contagious, so any time there is an exposure, it’s an important reminder of why getting the measles vaccine is so necessary to protect one another.”

Measles is preventable with the MMR vaccine and children are recommended two doses to be protected from measles for life, according to Public Health.

“The MMR shot is safe and very effective at preventing measles. When you take steps to ensure that you and your children get the recommended measles vaccines, you aren’t only protecting your child and family, you are helping protect our whole community,” Chief of Communicable Disease at Public Health, Dr. Eric Chow, said.

Public Health noted it will continue to communicate with the group of travelers to prevent any measles from spreading.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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