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Health Officials Prepare For Measles Cases

The measles has not made its way to Southern Oregon, but local health officials say it could and it has them concerned.

Posted: Jan 30, 2019 6:51 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- A case of measles has now been confirmed in Bend. There are now 38 confirmed cases of measles in the Pacific Northwest. 

Most of the cases are in Southwest Washington. Health officials say there are 13 more suspected cases. Of the 38 confirmed cases, 34 were never vaccinated.

The measles has not made its way to Southern Oregon, but local health officials say it could and it has them concerned.

Jackson County Health Officer Jim Shames said Jackson County as a whole has a pretty strong immunization rate, however there are pockets of the region that have extremely low rates.

"Measles is so incredibly infectious that it takes a large number of the public to be protected so it won't spread," Shames said. 

Shames said in any given environment of susceptible individuals, 90 percent will get measles if they're exposed to a case of measles. 

"To turn that around, you would need more than 90 percent of the people protected in an environment so that measles doesn't hop from person to person," Shames said. 

Shames said Jackson County Public Health is currently working with its local health care partners and schools to get everyone prepared for an outbreak. 

Shames said he thinks it's a fair chance that the outbreak will reach our region.

"I'm hoping not, but I think it's a real possibility," Shames said. 

He said parents who are worried their children might have the measles should not immediately take them to the hospital or their pediatrician, but they should first call ahead.

"They'll do all they can to help you prevent spreading the disease while they help you figure out if that's what you got," Shames said. 

According to the Oregon Health Authority, 93 percent of school-aged kids (kindergarten through 12th grade) in Jackson County are up to date on the MMR vaccine, which stands for measles, mumps, rubella. In Josephine County, 91 percent of school-aged kids are up to date, and in Curry County, 94 percent are up to date. In Klamath County, 97 percent are up to date. 

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