Two New Cases of Measles Traced to Oregon Airport Arrivals
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Health authorities in Oregon say two new cases of measles have been linked to exposure at Portland International Airport earlier this month, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
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Reporter Emily Goodykoontz said “both people were exposed on an international flight that landed in Portland on Oct. 12 and have since come down with the virus.” One of the unnamed patients is a Lane County resident, while the second was visiting Washington County. Both counties are in northwestern Oregon.
Infected Passengers Arrived in Portland on Flight from Amsterdam
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA), which released the information on Saturday, said both passengers were on the same Delta Air Lines flight 0179 from Amsterdam. Because neither of the travelers was fully vaccinated against measles, they also could have exposed people in Washington, Clackamas, and Lane County, including the Costco in Wilsonville and Trader Joe’s in Lake Oswego.
“OHA epidemiologists are working with public health staff in both counties to confirm sites where others may have been exposed,” the news release added.
Latest Measles Cases Bring Oregon Cases to 26 This Year
The OHA reported 24 cases of measles through week 40 of 2019. The latest reported cases would bring that total to 26. Last year, there were only five reported cases of the highly contagious virus through week 40.
Earlier this year, there was a surge of measles outbreaks in the country. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the United States was seeing "a resurgence of measles, a disease that had once been effectively eliminated from our country. . . . Measles is not a harmless childhood illness, but a highly contagious, potentially life-threatening disease."
Oregon Officials Urge Infected People to Call Healthcare Providers
Measles symptoms begin seven to 21 days after exposure and often mimic the flu. Symptoms usually begin with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. This is followed by a rash that often appears first on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.
“Measles is a highly infectious disease, and it doesn’t take much to spread it from one person to another, particularly in the close quarters of an airline flight,” said Dr. Ann Thomas, a public health physician at OHA. “It’s a good reminder of how important it is to make sure all adults and children in your household are up to date on vaccines,” she added.
Oregon Public health officials urge people to first call a health care provider or urgent care center by telephone if they have been exposed within the previous 21 days and they have symptoms of measles.