A student at North Creek High School (NCHS) in Bothell has been diagnosed with measles, Northshore School District (NSD) has confirmed.
The student is one of five new cases of the measles recently identified by the Washington State Department of Health. Of these five, two are residents in King County, two others reside in Pierce County and one lives in Snohomish County. In King County, a woman in her 40s and another in her 50s were diagnosed.
NSD is urging families to monitor their children for signs of measles. Students who may have measles are asked to stay away from school and see their primary care provider immediately. However, they should call ahead to their primary care provider before going in to prevent further spreading the virus.
Mark Beatty, a health officer in Snohomish County, said the Snohomish Health District worked with the school district to gather information from the family on potential exposure sites. On top of attending school, the student held a job.
The health district has posted a list of these places — where the student visited while infectious from May 5-12. These include Safeway in Bothell, NCHS, Top Pot Donuts, Arirang Korean BBQ, Pochi Bubble Tea, Good Pho You, the AMC Woodinville, QFC and Mon Amie Bakery.
A staff member at Issaquah High School (IHS) was also diagnosed with measles, according to the Issaquah School District (ISD).
L. Michelle, the district’s executive director of communications, did not know if the infected staff member was employed full time or part time.
Public Health of Seattle and King County advised high school officials on the evening of May 15 they needed to verify the immunization status of all staff, the district said. In order to allow staff the needed time to obtain their records and share them with administrators, IHS was closed May 16. The school reopened the next day.
IHS is one potential exposure site, meaning infected individuals were at the school before a measles diagnosis was made, according to Public Health.
Anyone who was at the high school from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., from May 6-9 could have been exposed to the measles.
Other Issaquah locations of potential exposure include: Coldwell Banker Bain (1151 SW Sammish Road, Suite 103), from 6-10 p.m. May 6, from 4-9 p.m May 7 and from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 12; Hops n Drops (4506 Klahanie Dr. SE), 5:30-9 p.m. May 9; Open house at Hunter’s Ridge (4548 244th Place SE), 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 10.
Of the five people diagnosed, one was fully immunized, another was unimmunized and the status of the remaining three were still under investigation. Unlike the unrelated outbreak of Clark County — which occurred primarily in children — four of these second outbreak cases occurred in adults.
One has been hospitalized due to the severity of the illness.
From Jan. 1 to May 10 of this year, there have been 831 confirmed cases of measles in 23 different states, said Kathy Lofy, Washington state health officer. This is the largest number of cases reported in the United States since 1994 and the most cases since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
Lofy said she anticipates more cases being confirmed due to the five subjects traveling to several different public places while infectious and given that measles are so contagious.
The measles virus, characterized with a red, blotchy rash, can remain in the air for about two hours after someone infected has left the area.
The source for the infections remains unknown as Seattle and King County Public Health disease investigators and Washington State Department of Health, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the Snohomish Health District search for any common connections.
A possible common exposure may have happened at SeaTac International Airport. The new measles cases spent time at the airport when the likely time of exposure would have happened.
“More measles in our communities means more risk of outbreaks among people who don’t have immunity,” said Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health of Seattle and King County, in a press release. “Measles vaccine is safe, effective and offers excellent protection. If you aren’t sure if you’re up to date with the recommended doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR), it’s safe to get one as a precaution.”
Lofy urged everyone to verify their immunization status in order to ensure a high level of herd immunity and prevent the spread of illness. “The bottom line is everybody just needs to check if their immunizations are up to date,” she said.
A more complete list of potential exposure sites is available on the Seattle and King County’s Public Health Insider blog, found online at www.publichealthinsider.com and on the Snohomish Health District’s website www.snohd.org/460/Measles.