Central Oregon has seen no cases of measles since a resident from Clark County, Washington, visited the area while contagious with the virus in mid-January, clearing the three-week incubation period for the disease.
Measles symptoms usually emerge about 10 days after exposure, but can show up as late as 21 days. Health officials had been tracking the health of individuals who had been at the two exposure sites in Bend but have seen no suspected or confirmed cases.
But health officials stressed there was still a need to remain vigilant and to increase vaccination rates with ongoing measles outbreaks just a car ride away.
“People like to visit our area, and of course, we have residents that go that direction that could bring back a case. We’re just a very mobile society,” said Jill Johnson, immunization program coordinator for Deschutes County Health Services. “For that we reason, we still want to be really vigilant and ensure we have a high enough immunization rate to protect our community.”
Public health officials have been working to contain a measles outbreak that has infected 53 people in Clark County and four more across the Columbia River in Multnomah County. All but two of the Clark County cases were in children, with 38 of the 53 younger than 10.
Only one of the cases occurred in a vaccinated patient, and that person had only received one dose of the vaccine. Current guidelines call for one vaccine at age 1, and then a second at age 2 to 4.
Johnson said Deschutes County Public Health has seen increased demand for vaccines over the past month, with many parents citing the ongoing measles outbreak as motivation. Others indicated they had been putting off getting the immunizations, and the potential exposure prompted them to come in.
“There’s also interest from families that hadn’t been vaccinated in the past and were getting other vaccines as well,” Johnson said.
Area pediatric offices have also seen an increase in demand for the measles vaccine, with many parents opting to get a second dose earlier in response to the outbreak. That increased demand comes as the annual school exclusion date looms next week. Children will not be able to attend school or child care starting Wednesday, Feb. 20, if their school records show missing immunizations without a medical or nonmedical exemption on file at their school.
Deschutes County health officials estimated that 1,500 people were potentially exposed at either the Mountain Air trampoline park Jan. 19 or the Juniper Swim & Fitness Center Jan. 20.
“Both facilities are large, and many of these people likely never came into close contact with the individual who was later confirmed with measles,” said Jennifer Faith, Deschutes County Health Service epidemiologist.
The health department checked the vaccination status of about 700 people for whom the two facilities were able to provide names and contact information. Among those, they found 16 children who were not vaccinated and monitored their health until the incubation period expired.
Johnson said the health department also spent a considerable amount of time dispelling rumors about measles in Central Oregon, particularly on social media.
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