Health & Education

Fever and rash? Call first before you go to the clinic

02.11.2019 Danielle Frost Measles

By Danielle Frost

Smoke Signals staff writer

The Grand Ronde Health & Wellness Department is strongly encouraging anyone who thinks they might have measles to not visit the clinic. Although no cases have been reported in Polk or Yamhill counties, the clinic is urging caution.

Signs have been posted on the clinic doors, alerting patients who have fever and a rash to stay outside and call the reception desk at 503-879-1407.

“It’s spreading so we have the signs up for precautionary reasons,” Health Services Executive Director Kelly Rowe said. “If someone suspects they have measles, we can come out and see them.”

According to the Oregon Department of Public Health, those at the greatest risk of measles include infants younger than 12 months who cannot be vaccinated, unvaccinated pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Measles symptoms typically begin with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a rash that begins on the face and spreads over the rest of the body.

Common complications include ear infections, lung infections and diarrhea. Swelling of the brain, although rare, is another complication. Those who contract measles can be contagious days before they know they are sick.

Tribal Pediatrician Allison Empey suggested parents who are worried about measles double-check that their children are current on vaccinations.

“Measles is a vaccine preventable disease,” Empey said. “The Centers for Disease Control recommends routine childhood immunization for measles, mumps and rubella vaccine starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age or at least 28 days following the first dose.”

One concern cited frequently by people with children too young to be vaccinated is whether it is safe to take them out in public.

“It is safe to take your children under 12 months of age or those who have not been immunized out in public,” Empey said. “Measles has not been reported in the Grand Ronde area.”

As of the last report from the Oregon Health Authority on Jan. 30, measles exposure sites in Oregon were concentrated to the Portland area and in Bend. Clark County, Wash., has 53 confirmed cases of measles.

“Measles is a highly contagious respiratory viral infection,” Empey said. “Measles spreads by having direct contact with oral and nasal secretions with someone with measles and through the air when someone with measles coughs or sneezes. Small particles of virus may remain in the air for several hours after a cough or sneeze. Therefore, to avoid spreading measles if you suspect you have measles, please call the clinic first.”