TACOMA — It’s a serious health alert for thousands in our area.
The first measles case was confirmed after a child from King County had just returned from a trip to the Pacific Islands on Memorial Day.
Now, that one case has multiplied, spreading from one King County family to an unrelated family in Pierce County.
Ten measles cases have been confirmed as of Friday. Nine of the 10 are from members of the same King County family. Members of that family sought help at Mary Bridge Emergency Department and unknowingly passed the measles to a 13-month-old Pierce County baby at the hospital on June 10.
“Doing everything we can to make sure that person and people around that child are protected,” Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department spokeswoman Edie Jeffers said.
The family of the 13-month-old then went to St. Joseph Medical Center Emergency Department on June 24-25, not realizing the child had measles.
Health officials are now contacting all the people who may have been exposed to both families.
“Taking the step of immunization is the right thing to do for the community,” Jeffers said.
But a child has to be 12 months or older to get the first round of shots.
That’s why it’s vital for all adults and pregnant women to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.
“If she has been vaccinated and, in fact, immune to measles, it will pass that protection on to the newborn child,” Dr. Christopher Kodama of MultiCare Health Systems said.
If you have the measles, you could break out in a rash.
“It starts on your face and can actually move and migrate down to your body,” Kodama said.
Other symptoms include a fever, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes.
Kodama says if you think you may have the measles, always call ahead before showing up to the hospital.
“The risk of spreading measles can occur four days prior to the emergence of the rash and typically four days after the rash is gone,” said Kodama.
Families already vaccinated say it should be a community effort to contain the measles outbreak or it could continue to grow.
“First and foremost I don’t want to get measles and I don’t want to be spreading it,” Koko Waters-Vogel said.
The exposure sites include
-MultiCare Covington Emergency Department and Imaging (dates of exposure 0613, 06/21, 06/22)
-MultiCare Mary Bridge Emergency Department and Tacoma General Emergency Department (06/22)
-MultiCare Mary Bridge Pediatrics Clinic, Maple Valley (06/19)
-MultiCare Covington Pediatrics (06/13, 06/14)
-MultiCare Mary Bridge Emergency Department (06/10-06/11)
-Multicare Kent Urgent Clinic (06/10)
-MultiCare Mary Bridge Emergency Department (06/24)
-St. Joseph Medical Center Emergency Department (06/24-25)
Health officials say five of the 10 confirmed measles cases so far involve children. They are also warning anyone traveling overseas to make sure their vaccines are up to date.