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Measles case reported in Ashland

Staff reports

Jackson County&

s first case of measles in 12 years has prompted public health officials to encourage anyone who has not been vaccinated against the disease to do it now.

A 40-year-old Ashland man apparently contracted the disease while traveling in Asia, health officials reported. The man was treated by his physician, who contacted public health officials. They in turn talked with the patient about who he might unknowingly have exposed to the disease and spoke with all of them about the potential health risk.

Measles is a common disease all over the world except in areas where people are vaccinated against it. Most people recover fully with no ill effects, but severe complications occur in 5 to 15 percent of patients, and in some rare cases measles can cause blindness, deafness or death.

Public health officials are particularly concerned about the present case because the patient lives in Ashland, which has the highest rate of unvaccinated school children in Oregon.

Because measles is highly contagious, people who have not been vaccinated or have not had the disease are extremely likely to contract it if they are exposed. Many cases that occur in the United States today are a result of unvaccinated people traveling abroad.

Jackson County last reported measles in 1994, when there were two cases. There have been just 35 cases in Oregon during the past 10 years, and the last big outbreak occurred in 1988-89, when there were 67 cases.

Children are commonly vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (the "MMR" vaccination) at the age of 12 to 15 months and again before they start kindergarten.

The vaccine begins to provide immunity within three days, health officials said, so people who think they may have been exposed and know they have not been vaccinated should contact a physician or call the county health department at 774-8209.