One Whatcom County resident contracted measles in B.C. outbreak

In another case, travelers at Sea-Tac warned

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 28, 2014 

A Whatcom County resident is among those who contracted measles in an outbreak that began earlier this month in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

The number of confirmed cases in the Fraser Valley East communities - Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope - totaled 237 as of Wednesday, March 26, according to B.C. public health officials.

Officials there declared an outbreak March 8.

Most of the cases were related to a private school with a high number of unvaccinated children, and the outbreak hasn't spread much beyond the Fraser Valley East communities.

The county resident who contracted measles has ties to the school, according to the Whatcom County Health Department. The person has been isolated and is being watched.

"The general public is not at risk," said Dr. Greg Stern, Whatcom County health officer.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is spread primarily through coughing and sneezing.

People who aren't immunized are being urged to get vaccinated, not only to protect themselves but vulnerable community members such as young children.

In an unrelated incident, public health officials put out a warning Friday, March 28, about a person infected with measles who traveled through Sea-Tac airport while contagious.

The California resident likely got measles while traveling in Europe, officials said.

Travelers at Sea-Tac during the following times may have been exposed:

-- 8:15 to 10:15 a.m. March 21 in Terminal B.

-- 6:30 to 10 p.m. March 22 in Terminal B.

People who were exposed and who aren't vaccinated could become sick March 28 through April 12.

Measles causes fever, rash and cough along with red, watery eyes.

Symptoms begin seven to 21 days after exposure.

The disease is contagious about four days before the rash appears until four days after it appears. People can spread measles before they have the rash.

People at highest risk from exposure include those who haven't been vaccinated, pregnant women, infants younger than six months, and those with weakened immune systems.

Learn more at cdc.gov/measles and kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com .

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