A second case of measles in Pierce County has been confirmed by county health officials.
The infected person, a young adult woman, visited a grocery store in Tacoma and Tacoma General Hospital during the Independence Day holiday weekend July 3-4, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
Official said the woman, who had been in close contact with the person infected in county’s first case, was at the Albertson’s store on South 38th Street and the hospital.
People who visited those locations at the time period of concern should contact their regular healthcare provider to let them know they were exposed to the measles, officials said. In addition, Tacoma General is contacting persons who were present – clients, visitors, and staff – during the times of potential exposure on July 3 and 4.
Secondary cases emerging from exposures to this case could be seen as late as July 21, officials said.
Pierce County’s two confirmed cases are part of an ongoing measles outbreak in Washington, including 10 confirmed cases in King County, since May 30. The Health Department announced the first case Pierce County case on June 27.
Pierce County residents should check their vaccination records to ensure they are up to date on the measles vaccination, and other important vaccinations, said Nigel Turner, communicable disease and emergency preparedness division director at the Health Department.
“Vaccination remains our best protection against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Turner. “Pierce County’s high rate of immunization among school children is helping to reduce the impact of this disease on our entire community.”
Since cases of measles began to circulate in Washington in March, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has issued regular alerts to medical providers urging them to ensure patients are updated on their vaccinations and take appropriate infection control measures to minimize any possible exposure.
In addition, the department provided a letter to school districts to distribute to families asking parents and guardians to ensure their child’s vaccinations were up to date.
In Pierce County, the measles vaccination rate among K-12 public and private school children is more than 90 percent, Turner said.
“Getting vaccinated against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is a step each of us can take to protect our loved ones and the larger community from illnesses that can be deadly for our most vulnerable,” said Turner.
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 and those with weakened immune systems.
Persons born before Jan. 1, 1957 are considered immune to measles from natural exposure. Persons born after that date are considered immune if they have had two doses of measles containing vaccine, serological evidence of immunity, or have had measles disease diagnosed by a medical provider. For more information about measles, visit www.tpchd.org/measles.
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.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Here’s what Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department officials say you should do if you think you’ve been exposed to measles:
• 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.
· If symptoms appear, call a healthcare provider promptly and tell them you want to be evaluated for measles. To avoid possibly spreading measles to other patients, don’t go to a clinic or hospital without calling first.
· Pierce County residents without a regular healthcare provider who think they might have measles should call 253-798-6410, option “0.” You can also look up free and low-cost vaccine resources for adults and children at www.tpchd.org/immunizations.