With the current measles outbreak associated with Disneyland in California, there have been more than 107 people infected in seven states, including Washington and Oregon. While there have been no measles cases identified in Spokane, we want to educate families on how they can protect themselves. Measures are also taken to protect students and staff in the event that measles is identified in a Spokane County school.

Measles begins with a mild to moderate fever accompanied by cough, runny nose, and red eyes about 8-12 days (but up to 21 days) after an exposure. Two or three days later, the fever spikes, often as high as 104-105°F. At the same time, a red blotchy rash appears, usually first on the face, along the hairline and behind the ears. The rash rapidly spreads downward to the chest and back and, finally, to the thighs and feet. Most students with measles are sick enough that they miss at least a week of school. One in every 20 people with measles develops pneumonia and more rarely, serious, even life-threatening complications can occur.

Measles spreads very easily by air and by direct contact. Simply being in the same room with someone who has measles is sufficient to become infected and up to 90% of susceptible individuals will develop an infection when exposed. Measles will also circulate in the air for two hours after an infected person leaves the room.

Your child is at risk of developing measles if he/she has never had the disease or has never received the measles vaccine. This is also true for anyone in your household who has never had measles or the measles vaccine. Vaccination is the best defense against measles infection and two doses of measles-containing vaccine (MMR or MMRV) are required for full protection.

Most Spokane schools have high vaccination rates. However, if a measles exposure occurs in a school, students with incomplete vaccination, or an exemption from receiving the vaccine, will not be allowed to attend school until the outbreak is over. If you are unsure of your child’s immunization status, please check with your healthcare provider.

We encourage households to get their family’s immunizations current (adults and children) and send their children’s updated immunization records to the school. Please be aware, if we have a case of measles in your student’s school, students not fully vaccinated will not be allowed to attend school for at least 21 days after exposure to the germ. More information on measles and the ongoing outbreak can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/measles/.