First measles case in at least 6 years reported in Pierce County

Staff writerJune 26, 2014 

  • In case of exposure

    Anyone with symptoms of measles, such as a fever or unexplained rash, cough and watery red eyes, should call a health care provider before going in, to prevent spreading the illness.

    People without a primary care provider can call the health departments at 253-798-6410, ext. 0 in Pierce County, and 206-296-4949 in King County.

    More information is available at http://www.tpchd.org/measles.

An infant exposed to measles at a Tacoma hospital is the first confirmed case of the disease in Pierce County in at least six years, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said Thursday.

The case is connected to eight confirmed cases being investigated in South King County, all among members of the same extended family, officials said.

The infant, infected at the emergency department of Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Health Center, is not part of that family, said Pierce Health Department spokeswoman Edie Jeffers.

Investigators believe the child was exposed when members of the infected family went there for treatment, she said.

Jeffers said she could release no information about the child's condition, age or gender, except to say the baby was too young to have been immunized for measles.

“It’s a seriously contagious disease,” Jeffers said, adding that infants are especially susceptible because they are not vaccinated in the first months after birth.

Babies generally get their first measles vaccine when they are between 12 and 15 months old, and those in contact with infants need to be vaccinated to protect them, Jeffers said.

Before this outbreak, 15 cases of the disease had been confirmed in Washington State as of May 30.

Nationally, more than 514 cases have been reported this year as of June 20, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the worst year-to-date count since 1994.

MultiCare Health Systems said five of the eight people originally infected in the King County outbreak went to their facilities for treatment, and might have exposed others at the Mary Bridge emergency department June 11.

They also might have infected people at:

• MultiCare Covington Emergency Department and Imaging on June 13, 21, 22.

• MultiCare Mary Bridge Pediatrics Clinic, Maple Valley on June 19.

• MultiCare Covington Pediatrics on June 13, 14.

• MultiCare Kent Urgent Care Clinic on June 10.

Staff members are contacting people who might have been exposed, MultiCare said.

The cases are connected to a person who returned to the United States from the Pacific Islands with measles May 26, according to the King and Pierce County health departments.

“Now is a good time to confirm whether or not you’ve been vaccinated for measles or have had measles previously,” the health departments said in a joint statement.

Staff reporter Steve Maynard and McClatchy contributed to this report.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268 alexis.krell@thenewstribune.com thenewstribune.com/crime-news @amkrell

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