November 20, 2019

Clark County Public Health is investigating a confirmed case of measles in a child who is unvaccinated (view Clark County’s release). The child returned to Clark County on Nov. 14 after traveling to a country where a measles outbreak is occurring. The child passed through Portland International Airport and two area hospitals while contagious.

People who visited the locations listed below may have been exposed to measles:

Portland International Airport

  • Thursday Nov. 14, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
  • Specifically Concourse E, north end of lower level including restrooms and baggage claim.    

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, Vancouver

  • Thursday, Nov. 14, from 12:45 p.m. to 5:05 p.m. 

Randall Children’s Hospital

  • Saturday, Nov. 16, from 11:50 p.m. to Sunday, Nov. 17 at 4:25 a.m.
  • Legacy's thorough review of this exposure shows very low risk to the public.

Just-in-time medication

Public Health is advising anyone who may have been exposed and believes they have symptoms of measles to call their health care provider prior to visiting the medical office to make a plan that avoids exposing others in the waiting room. 

Those who are susceptible and were exposed could develop symptoms between Nov. 18 and Dec. 9.

Certain high-risk individuals who are not immune can get just-in-time medicine called immunoglobulin. It is prioritized for nonimmune infants, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems who were exposed. It must be given within 6 days of exposure to help prevent illness. 

It is too late for anyone exposed at the airport or PeaceHealth but can still help high risk individuals who think they were exposed at Randall Children’s Hospital, if that medication is given by the end of Friday, Nov. 22.

“This is a reminder of how important it is to get vaccines up to date before leaving the country,” said Multnomah County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines. “Immunization is one of the best ways to stay well while you travel.”

About measles

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially serious illness caused by a virus. It is spread through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes. A person with measles can spread the virus before they show symptoms. The virus also can linger in the air after someone who is infectious has left. Measles poses the highest risk to people who have not been vaccinated, including infants younger than 12 months. 

Persons are likely immune to measles if any of the following apply:

  • They were born before 1957
  • They have had measles before
  • They are up to date on measles vaccines (one dose for preschool children, two doses in anyone 4 years and older)

After someone is exposed, illness develops in about one to three weeks.

Measles symptoms begin with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a rash that usually begins at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. People are contagious with measles as soon as they become sick, typically four days before the rash starts and until four days after the rash appears.

Common complications of measles include ear infection, lung infection and diarrhea. Swelling of the brain is a rare but much more serious complication. Measles may cause complications in pregnancy pregnant women to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby. For every 1,000 children with measles, one or two can die from the disease.

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
  • Clark County Public Health: 564-397-8182 
  • Washington County Public Health: 503-846-3594
  • Clackamas County Public Health: 503-655-8411