Public Health–Seattle and King County is investigating a new measles case, and all but one of its possible exposures were in Auburn.
James Apa, communications director of Public Health–Seattle and King County, said in a press release Friday evening that a King County woman in her 40s who has tested positive for measles spent time at sites in Auburn and Kent before she knew she was contagious.
This is the third King County measles case identified this month, Apa said, summing to six recent cases in Washington state residents. As noted above, transmission of measles can occur before people know they have the disease and before any rash appears.
Before the latest measles diagnosis was made, the infected individual was in the public locations listed below on the following dates and at the following times. These times include not only the period when the infected woman was at the place but two hours after, as the measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves an area:
May 10, 7:30 a.m. – 9:35 a.m., The Villas Building A, 1221 A St. NE, Auburn;
May 10, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., The Box Maker, 6406 S 190th St, Kent;
May 10, 5:30 p.m. – 8:20 p.m., The Villas Building A, 1221 A St. NE, Auburn;
May 11, 3:55 p.m. – 6:50 p.m., The Villas Building A, 1221 A St. NE, Auburn;
May 11, 4 p.m.– 7 p.m., Fred Meyer, 801 Auburn Way N, Auburn; and
May 15, 8:30 a.m. – 1:25 p.m., The Villas Building A, 1221 A St. NE, Auburn.
At this point in the investigation, the information on all the recent cases points to a common exposure from an unidentified person who was contagious with measles on April 25 at Sea-Tac International Airport, probably in the morning. Apa said, adding however, that health officials have no reason to believe that there is an increased risk of getting measles by visiting the airport.
Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes. It mainly spreads through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes. Measles symptoms begin seven to 21 days after exposure to someone wit measles. 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.
Measles complications can include ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and rarely, encephalitis — brain inflammation. Complications from measles can happen even in healthy people but those at highest risk include: infants and children under 5 years,adults over 20 years, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems from drugs or underlying disease. If you are in one of these high risk groups and were exposed to measles, be sure to contact your health care provider to discuss the need for treatment to prevent measles infection.
Measles is preventable with the safe and highly effective measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two doses of the MMR vaccine are more than 95 percent effective in preventing measles and that protection is long lasting.
As most people in the King County area are immune to the measles through vaccination, Apa said, the risk to the general public is low. but anyone who was at the listed places of potential exposure to measles around the times given should:
• Find out if they have been vaccinated for measles or have had measles;
• Make sure they are up-to-date with the recommended number of measles vaccinations;
• Call a health care provider promptly if they develop an illness with fever or an illness with an unexplained rash;
• To avoid possibly spreading measles to others, they should not go to a clinic or hospital without calling first to tell them they want to be evaluated for measles; and
• Check with their health care provider, as in some cases vaccination or medication can be given after exposure in to prevent illness. This is especially important for people at high risk for measles complications.
Apa said his agency will keep working with the Washington State Department of Health, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the Snohomish Health District to identify any connections between all of the cases. These agencies will provide updates to the public through their social media and websites as more information becomes available.
The list of all measles cases and locations of exposure in King County is at kingcounty.gov/measles/cases.