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DHS news release

May 30, 2007

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Program contacts: Paul Cieslak, Dept. of Human Services, 971-673-1111; Betsy Meredith, Lane County Health Department, 541-968-1835

Public health officials investigate probable Lane County measles case


State public health officials today confirmed they are investigating a probable case of measles in a Lane County resident.


“Laboratory results are needed to confirm the diagnosis and may not be available until next week,” said Paul Cieslak, M.D., communicable disease manager in the Oregon Department of Human Services Public Health Division. “Meanwhile, the patient is in isolation to prevent exposing anyone else.”


The individual, a man in his 20s, flew May 21 from Japan to Oregon. He also spent time in the emergency department at Sacred Heart Medical Center.


“We are working closely with the Lane County Public Health Department and Sacred Heart Medical Center to identify anyone who may have had contact with this person locally,” said Cieslak. “We have also notified the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about potential exposure of airline passengers.”


“This is a reminder that measles is still out there,” said Cieslak. “We can protect our children by making sure they have all their immunizations.”


Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that is transmitted through the air. It usually begins with a cough, runny nose, eye irritation and fever. These symptoms are followed by a red, blotchy rash that begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Approximately 6 percent of cases get pneumonia, and a smaller percentage suffer infection in the brain. About 1 case out of every 500 dies.

Persons with measles can be contagious for several days before the rash appears and for up to four days afterward. Cieslak cautioned that people with a rash illness should not just "drop in" to their physician’s office or to the emergency room.


“Measles is about the most contagious disease known, and dropping in on doctors’ offices or emergency rooms can expose patients,” Cieslak said. “If you have a fever and a rash, call and arrange to see your physician where other patients will not be exposed.”


Adults born during or after 1957 who have not had measles or aren’t sure if they have had measles should receive one dose of measles vaccine. College students and children one year of age and older should receive two doses of measles vaccine, given at least one month apart. Adults born before 1957 probably already have had measles and are presumed to be immune.


“Health care workers have been at higher risk of measles in recent outbreaks,” said Cieslak. “Therefore, they should be sure they are immune; if unsure, they should consult their infection‑control practitioners about the need for vaccination.”


Cieslak advised that health care providers who suspect measles in a patient should report the case to the patient’s local health department right away.


Identifying, investigating and controlling communicable diseases is one of many public health programs that focus on protecting Oregonians so they can be as productive and healthy as possible.