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Clark County measles outbreak grows to 49 cases

Nine suspected cases also reported in update from public health officials

By , Columbian staff writer
Published: February 4, 2019, 11:38am
2 Photos
An informational sign about the measles is posted in the entrance of the Kaiser Permanente Cascade Park office Monday morning, Feb. 4, 2019. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)
An informational sign about the measles is posted in the entrance of the Kaiser Permanente Cascade Park office Monday morning, Feb. 4, 2019. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The number of confirmed cases in Clark County’s measles outbreak has risen to 49, according to a report released Monday by Clark County Public Health. Nine suspected cases were also reported.

The new number, which does not include a case in King County or one in Multnomah County, Ore., now includes an adult between the age of 30 to 39. Confirmed cases also include 34 children ages 1 to 10; 13 youths ages 11 to 18; and one adult between 19 and 29.

Of the 49 cases confirmed, 42 had not been immunized against the highly contagious virus. Immunization status could not be verified for six cases, and one case involved a child who had received only a single does of the MMR vaccine.

No new exposure sites were reported Monday. Visit this link for a list of exposure sites: www.columbian.com/news/2019/jan/29/measles-exposure-sites.

Clark County Public Health has only identified two new exposure sites since Jan. 29. Those sites are Minnehaha Elementary School, 2800 N.E. 54th St., Vancouver, from 3:45 to 7:45 p.m. Jan. 17, and Word of Grace Bible Church, 1317 N.W. 12th Ave., Battle Ground, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 20.

In that same time frame, Bend, Ore., had two exposure sites identified, but so far, no confirmed cases in that area have been reported.

Vaccinations on the rise

Dr. Dino Ramzi, who runs Patient Direct Care in Battle Ground, has seen an uptick in patients visiting for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination since the outbreak. Ramzi is generally seeing a few patients each day for MMR vaccine, which he offers for free to Washington patients 19 and younger. For Oregon patients of any age and Washington patients 19 and older, the vaccine costs $90. 

Patient Direct Care is a direct primary care medical office, which offers a monthly fee for primary care. Ramzi opened the Battle Ground location in 2016, and he said offering vaccinations was an important part of his care goals.

“When we first opened the clinic, I realized there are a lot of folks who are hesitant about vaccines in this area, so it was kind of a no-brainer to try to offer that to the community as a whole,” Ramzi said.

A portion of those asking for vaccines have been members, but he’s also had a number of people come in off the street for vaccines. Direct Care has bilingual staff members who can help address vaccination fears and concerns in a patient’s primary language, said Dianna Kretzschmar, the director of business development at Direct Care.

“We’re no judgment, no guilt. We’re not going to give you a lecture,” Kretzschmar said. “We’re going to right the ship, get you on track for your vaccinations and treat you with dignity and respect. I think a lot of folks, especially in the Russian community, who have fear if they do come are a little apprehensive because, ‘how are you going to judge me?’ ”

“They’ve heard so much misinformation, they’re just scared,” Ramzi added of patients he’s seen.

Ramzi said he’s able to give many vaccinations out on the day of a walk-in, but if he can’t see those patients, he’ll schedule them for the next day.

“We’re the victims of our own success,” Ramzi said. “When you don’t see a disease, you’re not afraid of it. You have to remind people, ‘Hey, do you know why there is no smallpox around? Because of vaccines.’ ”

What to do if you might be infected

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 90 percent of unvaccinated people exposed to the measles virus come down with the disease. The virus lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person, and can survive for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed.

Immunization sites

The following Clark County locations are offering the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. Some sites offer vaccines for walk-ins, others require appointments. It is recommended to call beforehand to verify what options are available.

Patient Direct Care: 209 E. Main St., Battle Ground, Ste. 121.

Vancouver Clinic: 700 N.E. 87th Ave., Vancouver; 2005 W. Main St., Battle Ground; 501 S.E. 172nd Ave., Vancouver; 2525 N.E. 139th St., Vancouver; 291 C St., Washougal, Ste. 110; Columbia Tech Center, 501 S.E. 172nd Ave., Vancouver; Vancouver Plaza Neighborhood Clinic, 7809 N.E. Vancouver Plaza Drive, Vancouver, Ste. 110.

Kaiser Permanente: Cascade Park Medical Office, 12607 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver; Salmon Creek Medical Office, 14406 N.E. 20th Ave. Vancouver; Orchards Medical Office, 7101 N.E. 137th Ave., Vancouver; Battle Ground Medical Office, 720 W. Main St., Battle Ground, Ste. 115.

Many Safeway and Albertsons locations in Washington and Oregon are offering the MMR vaccine to walk-ins. It is recommend to call a location’s pharmacist before to confirm it’s available. The vaccine is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. All children (5 years and older) and adults are eligible to receive vaccinations.

Health officials are urging anyone who has been exposed at an identified location 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.

If you are unsure of your family’s immunization status, you can view, download and print your family’s immunization information online at wa.MyIR.net or request a copy of your immunization record from the Washington State Department of Health.

Anyone with questions about measles infection or the measles vaccine should call their primary care provider or a county health department:

Clark County Public Health, 360-397-8021.
Multnomah County, Ore., Public Health, 503-988-3406.
Washington County, Ore., Public Health, 503-846-3594.
Clackamas County, Ore., Public Health, 503-655-8411.

Clark County Public Health has been regularly updating its list of locations where people may have been exposed to measles. There are dozens of locations in total, including hospitals, Portland International Airport and multiple schools.

Public Health has established a call center for questions related to the investigation. Anyone who has questions about public exposures should call 360-397-8021. The call center is open daily.

For a complete list of exposure sites, visit the Public Health measles investigation webpage at www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Measles/MeaslesOutbreak.

Measles symptoms begin with a high 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. A person can spread the virus before they show symptoms.

People are contagious with measles for up to four days before and up to four days after the rash appears. After someone is exposed to measles, illness develops in about one to three weeks.

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