Friday, July 11, 2014

Measles cases are up in Washington: Protect yourself and the children in your life

Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease, and there are more confirmed measles cases in Washington so far this year than in the past five years combined.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is an infectious viral disease that typically begins with a fever, followed by a cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis (pink eye). A rash starts on the face and upper neck, spreads down the back and trunk, then spreads to arms and legs. 

Our partners at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shared steps you can take to protect yourself and the children in your life:

  • The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is recommended for children 12 months and older, health care workers, college students, adults born after 1956, and people who travel internationally. Pregnant women should not get the vaccine until after giving birth.
  • Children should be vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine, with the first dose between 12 and 15 months and the second at 4 to 5 years. Children ages 6 to 11 months who will be travelling internationally should receive one dose of MMR at least two weeks before departure. Adults should have at least one measles vaccination, with some people needing two. Anyone planning to travel should make sure they are immune to measles before leaving the U.S. Vaccine can be found by calling your health care provider or by checking the online vaccine finder for a location near you.
  • People who are unvaccinated, or aren’t sure if they’re immune, and develop an illness with fever and rash should consult a health care professional immediately. Call ahead to your clinic, doctor’s office, or emergency room before arriving to avoid exposing others in waiting rooms.
For more information about measles and vaccinations, visit the DOH's Measles in Washington web page.  

Recent measles cases are confirmed in South King and Pierce counties. The Tacoma - Pierce County Health Department has posted a list of locations and time periods of concerns. If you visited one of these locations during the time period, contact your regular health care provider to let them know. 

Licensed child care providers must notify the local health jurisdiction, their Department of Early Learning licensor, and parents or guardians of children in care when they become aware of a household member, staff person or child in care being diagnosed with measles (or any of the contagious diseases listed in WAC 246-110-010).

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