King County Health: Measles outbreak in south King, Pierce Counties
Local public health officials are investigating eight confirmed cases of measles among members of the same extended family in south King County, and a single suspected case in Pierce County.
These cases are linked to another case who returned to the United States from the Pacific Islands on May 26 with measles.
Given the unfolding investigation and uncertainty about places where the people with measles may have visited, anyone residing in south King County or Pierce County should:
- be aware that measles cases are occurring in the community,
- be up to date on measles vaccine,
- and follow the recommendations below if they develop symptoms of measles.
Known public exposures occurred at several MultiCare healthcare facilities where the infected individuals were treated, including a hospital in Tacoma. Details about these exposures will be updated regularly at the MultiCare website. These medical facilities are directly contacting persons who were present – clients, visitors, and staff – during the times of potential exposure .
Public health officials are requesting that health care providers increase their awareness and preparedness for measles cases in the community, including taking appropriate infection control measures to minimize exposure to other patients and staff.
Members of the south King County household were unvaccinated because they were too young to receive the vaccine or simply missed their vaccinations.
Public Health—Seattle & King County is working closely with a community from Micronesia connected to the outbreak and is conducting extensive outreach to ensure as many people as possible in this community are vaccinated.
What to do if you were potentially exposed to measles
Anyone who lives or works in south King County should 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 is being instructed to:
- 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.
People without a regular healthcare provider who think they might have measles can contact their local health departments at the numbers below:
- King County residents should call the Measles Hotline at 206-296-4949
- Pierce County residents should call 253-798-6410, option “0”
For those without insurance or a regular provider, the following healthcare facilities have agreed to provide vaccine (with a small administrative fee) for walk-in patients:
- SeaMar Burien: Mon.-Sat. from 8am-5pm
- SeaMar Kent: Mon.-Fri. from 8am-5pm
- SeaMar White Center: Mon.-Fri. from 8am-5pm
- SeaMar Bellevue: Mon.-Sat. from 8am-5pm
- SeaMar Seattle: Mon.-Sat. from 8am-5pm
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 under six months of age and those with weakened immune systems.
For more information about measles, a fact sheet is available in multiple languages.
Measles vaccination schedule
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; more information is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Adults should have at least one dose of measles vaccine, and two doses are recommended for international travelers, healthcare workers, and students in college, trade school, and other schools after high school.