Multnomah County reported four new measles cases Monday, April 22. Officials say they pose no risk to the public.
These cases are linked to an outbreak that began in Marion County in March after an unvaccinated resident of Illinois became ill with the virus. That unvaccinated individual traveled overseas to countries where measles is regularly found. Two Multnomah County residents — in addition to two Marion County residents and one Clackamas County Resident — subsequently contracted the virus.
The four new cases announced on April 22 were close contacts of a confirmed case and were aware of their exposure. The individuals stayed home and were in regular contact with Multnomah County Communicable Disease Services.
Health officials worked closely with the individuals to track the progression of symptoms, which typically begin with a cough, runny nose, red eyes and fever, followed by a rash that begins around the hairline and spreads to the rest of the body.
When people have to stay home for many days to avoid spreading the virus, the county’s Communicable Disease Services team checks daily to see how they are feeling and whether they need medical care. If an individual needs medical attention, staff help them develop a plan to get care without exposing other people.
Staff also help people find ways to continue their daily routines without creating new exposures. That can include ways to attend church via video feed, helping employers understand why an employee needs time away from work and making sure kids stay caught up with homework.
“These individuals did everything right and worked closely with Multnomah County,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, deputy health officer for Multnomah County. “They stayed away from others while on symptom watch, so we have no new public exposures to measles.”
These cases are unrelated to a measles outbreak in Clark County, Wash. that began in January. That outbreak resulted in 73 confirmed cases including cases and exposures in Oregon. Multnomah County had four cases linked to that outbreak. The confirmed cases in the Clark County outbreak matched a wild strain of virus circulating in Eastern Europe, strongly suggesting the outbreak began when a traveler brought the virus into Washington.
In addition in 2019, Multnomah County ruled out one possible case unrelated to either outbreak after additional testing was done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Anyone with questions about measles infection or the measles vaccine should call their primary care provider or their local county health department:
Multnomah County Public Health: 503-988-3406
Marion County Public Health: 503-588-5621
Clackamas County Public Health: 503-655-8411
Clark County Public Health: 564-397-8182
Washington County Public Health: 503-846-3594
Oregonians can request a copy of their vaccination records from the Oregon Health Authority by printing out a form online.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that causes fever, body-aches, congestion, cough and red eyes followed by a whole body rash two to four days later. Measles frequently causes diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia. In recent years, approximately 30 percent of Oregon cases required hospitalization. Less frequent, but feared complications include eye damage, blindness, pneumonia, brain infection and death.
After someone contracts measles, illness usually develops 7 to 21 days later.
Measles spreads through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes. People are contagious with measles as soon as they feel sick and up to four days after the rash appears. The virus can also linger in the air for up to two hours after someone who is infectious has left.
Measles poses the highest risk of complications to unvaccinated pregnant women, infants under 12 months of age, and people with weakened immune systems.
A person is considered immune to measles if any of the following apply:
You were born before 1957.
A physician diagnosed you with measles in the past.
A blood test proves that you are immune.
You have been fully vaccinated against measles (one dose for children over 12 months and most healthy adults; two doses for children in K-12).