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News / Health / Clark County Health

Six cases of measles confirmed in Clark, Wahkiakum counties

Public Health said there were no public exposures but alerted health care providers out of an abundance of caution

By Chrissy Booker, Columbian staff writer
Published: January 8, 2024, 12:16pm

Six cases of measles were confirmed in both Clark and Wahkiakum counties as of Monday, according to Clark County Public Health.

Public Health received lab confirmation for three cases Friday evening, but through its investigation, identified three additional cases.

The six cases are in one family, which has members living in both Clark and Wahkiakum counties. All family members are unvaccinated. After the first person became ill, the other five family members isolated at home during their contagious period.

Public Health “is not aware of any public exposure related to any of the six cases. Our investigation is ongoing, but based on the information we’ve gathered so far, we believe the risk to the public is low,” said Marissa Armstrong, the department’s communications manager. “However, in an abundance of caution, we alerted health care providers on Saturday evening to be on the lookout for possible measles cases and provided guidance on testing.”

Clark County had 71 confirmed measles cases in 2019, the most cases the state had seen since 1990. Public Health led a monthslong response and spent more than $864,000 to fight the outbreak. Public Health declared the outbreak over April 29, 2019, after six weeks with no new cases.

According to Public Health, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers who get the virus while they are in other countries.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially serious illness caused by a virus that spreads 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 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 for four days before the rash appears and up to four days after the rash appears.

One dose of the measles vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles. Two doses are about 97 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.