Measles continues to spread in Washington as cases in San Juan County have extended to a Kitsap County resident. A man in his 40s from Kitsap visited several places in Friday Harbor, including a restaurant where a contagious San Juan County man was at the same time.
San Juan County’s case count is now five, and Kitsap County has one. In Whatcom County, the case count remains at six. So far, there have been no reported measles cases related to the Whatcom County woman who attended a concert and several public venues in King and Pierce counties while contagious. Public health officials warn that the time is just starting when people who went to those places may start showing symptoms.
According to health officials, the Kitsap County man may have been exposed to measles March 21 at Cask and Schooner Public House and Restaurant, where San Juan County’s first case was also present while contagious. The Kitsap resident also traveled around Puget Sound while contagious, going to Seattle from Bainbridge Island on the Washington State Ferry System April 4, then flying to Friday Harbor. From the marina, he went to the San Juan County Department of Community Development and Planning, Cask and Schooner, and the fuel dock in Friday Harbor.
A list of the places visited by both cases while they were contagious is available online. Anyone who was in those places at the listed times should find out if they’ve been vaccinated for measles or have had measles before. People who are unvaccinated, or aren’t sure if they’re immune, and develop an illness with fever and unexplained rash should consult a health care professional immediately. Call ahead to their clinic, doctor’s office, or emergency room before arriving so people in waiting rooms aren’t exposed.
Measles is highly contagious even before the rash starts, and is easily spread when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes — if you’re not vaccinated, you can get the measles just by walking into a room where someone with the disease has been in the past couple of hours.
Washington typically has five or fewer measles cases per year; so far in 2014, there have been 12. Symptoms begin seven-to-21 days after exposure and is contagious for about four days before rash appears until four days afterward. 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.
Children should be vaccinated with two doses of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, with the first dose between 12 and 15 months and the second at four-to-six years. Adults should have at least one measles vaccination, with some people needing two. The state Department of Health immunization program has more information about measles and measles vaccine.