King County residents may have been exposed to measles after a man from British Columbia, Canada traveled to Seattle in late April and fell ill after returning home.
The man, who is in his 40s, has made a recovery and had previously visited Japan and New York before traveling to King County, according to a press release from Seattle and King County Public Health. On top of stopping in several locations in Seattle, the man also took Kenmore Air Flight M5 340 on April 28. This case is thought to be unrelated to an outbreak that happened earlier this year in Clark County.
“Measles is a very contagious illness, so if people are not vaccinated or otherwise have immunity, then if they’re exposed, they’re very likely to be infected,” said James Apa, Seattle and King County Public Health spokesperson. “We want people to know where those exposures were so if they were there, they can review their own immunity and watch for symptoms.”
He added that there have not been any new reported cases of measles.
While the risk to those already vaccinated is low, those without vaccinations may be at risk. People are encouraged to call a doctor if they develop an illness with a fever or an unexplained rash between April 27 and May 19. Symptoms include fever, rash, coughing and watery eyes. Children younger than 5, adults older than 20, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable.
A list of places where people may have been exposed to measles is available online at the county’s Public Health Insider blog.
Japan is in the midst of a sweeping measles outbreak, as is New York. Clark County in southwest Washington recently declared its outbreak over on April 29 following six weeks with no new cases. In total, Clark County health officials documented 71 confirmed cases beginning on Jan. 3.
The outbreak in Clark County began after a child traveled there from Ukraine, but health officials couldn’t determine if the case was the source of the outbreak. Nearly all of those effected were younger than 18, and 61 of those who came down with measles were unvaccinated. About half were exposed to the disease in their homes, followed by a quarter who were exposed at public locations.
An incident management team was activated on Jan. 15 to deal with the outbreak and operated for 63 days. In total, the outbreak cost nearly $865,000 to combat.
“This case is another reminder that measles is resurgent in many areas of the United States and the world, and that because we all travel, no community is safe from measles introductions,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin with Seattle and King County Public Health in a press release. “Measles vaccine is safe and effective — all adults and children should be sure they are up to date with the recommended doses of vaccine to protect themselves and their community.”
Unvaccinated groups, can increase the likelihood of outbreaks spreading. Measles is spread mainly through the air after an infected person coughs.