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New case of measles in King County

Summary

Public Health – Seattle & King County is investigating a confirmed measles case in an adult female. People who were at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport or at Providence Swedish First Hill in Seattle may have been exposed to measles if they were there within the time span that this person passed through while infectious.

Story

Public Health – Seattle & King County is investigating a confirmed measles case in a King County resident, an adult female. The individual was at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Providence Swedish First Hill while infectious. The individual was unvaccinated, and the infection was likely acquired outside the United States.

“Measles is highly contagious and if you don’t have immunity, you can get it just by being in a room where a person with measles has been," said Dr. Eric Chow, Communicable Disease Chief for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Fortunately, the measles vaccine is very effective. Two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine provides about 97% protection against getting infected by measles and that protection lasts a lifetime.”

Location of potential exposure to the public

The infected individual was at the following public locations before she was diagnosed with measles. These times include the period when she was at the location and two hours after. Measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after someone infectious with measles leaves the area. Anyone who was at the following locations during the times listed could have been exposed to measles:

DATE TIME LOCATION
1/18/23 12:26 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, South Satellite (Gate B6) to Baggage Claim
(Carousel 04)
1/20/23 2:00 p.m. - 4:55 p.m. Providence Swedish First Hill, Emergency Department
700 Minor Ave
Seattle WA 98122

What to do if you were in a location of potential measles exposure

Most people in our area have immunity to the measles through vaccination, so the risk to the general public is low. However, anyone who was in the locations of potential exposure to measles around the times listed should:

  • Find out if you have been vaccinated for measles or have had measles previously. Make sure you are up-to-date with the recommended number of measles (MMR) vaccinations.
  • Call a healthcare provider promptly if you develop an illness with fever or with an unexplained rash. To avoid possibly spreading measles to others, do not go to a clinic or hospital without calling first to tell them you want to be evaluated for measles.

You can get vaccination or medication after exposure in some cases to prevent illness – check with your healthcare provider. This is especially important for people at high risk for measles complications.

If you were at the locations at the times listed above and are not immune to measles, the most likely time you would become sick would be between 1/25/2023 - 2/10/2023.

About measles

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes. It mainly spreads 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.

Measles can lead to ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and rarely, encephalitis (brain inflammation).

Complications from measles can happen even in healthy people, but those at highest risk include: infants and children under 5 years, adults over 20 years, pregnant people, and people with weakened immune systems from medications or underlying disease.

If you are in one of these high-risk groups and were exposed to measles at one of these locations, be sure to contact your health care provider to discuss the need for treatment to prevent measles infection.

Measles is preventable with the safe and highly effective measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles and that protection is long lasting.

For more information about measles and measles vaccination, including where to get measles vaccinations: kingcounty.gov/measles