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Measles alert update: Four cases 'suspected' in Friday Harbor; one confirmed

The number of people suspected of having the measles in Friday Harbor has risen to four, according the San Juan County public health department.

The alert about the rise in suspected cases comes on the heels of a confirmed case of measles, affecting an adult San Juan Island man. The public health department issued a previous warning about the possible spread of the disease, March 28, after the confirming that an adult San Juan Island man had contracted the virus.

The department of health bulletin said exposure to the disease may have occurred in the afternoon and evening hours of March 21 to March 24 in downtown Friday Harbor. The incubation period for the disease is seven to eighteen days. Questions about exposure or symptoms can be directed to the county health department, 378-4474.

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The first confirmed case of measles in Friday Harbor in decades has prompted the San Juan County public health department to issue an alert to warn people who may have been exposed.

"All persons who are exposed to the virus and have not been immunized against measles will most likely get the disease," according to the department.

The measles virus is highly contagious. It can cause serious complications such as deafness and pneumonia in young children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems, according to Health & Community Services Director John Manning.

Symptoms include high fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and a rash of tiny red spots that starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. They will be present 7-21 days after exposure.

The department of health bulletin said exposure to the disease may have occurred in the afternoon and evening hours of March 21 to March 24 in downtown Friday Harbor. The incubation period for the disease is seven to eighteen days. Questions about exposure or symptoms can be directed to the county health department, 378-4474.

Manning noted there had not been an outbreak of measles on San Juan Island during his tenure with the public health department, which began in 1994. There have been recent outbreaks in Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, New York City and Orange County in southern California. Manning said the local case involves a person who had just returned from overseas.

For more information, visit www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/5100/420-014-Fact-Measles.pdf.

— Steve Wehrly

 

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