Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Spokane Measles Quarantine Includes 6 Infants

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network
Epidemiologist Dorothy MacEachern is monitoring people who may have been exposed to the measles in the Spokane area.

Six infants may have been exposed to the measles in a recent outbreak in the Spokane area, and 25 people are under quarantine.

The first measles outbreak in Spokane in two decades was confirmed last month, with two cases in unvaccinated adults. Both are recovering.

But the potential infection of infants before the cases were discovered is especially worrisome, said Dorothy MacEachern, an epidemiologist with the Spokane Regional Health District.

The infants were too young to be vaccinated -- the measles vaccine is usually administered at 12 months -- and measles in babies can lead to ear infections and pneumonia.

"And then there’s the other, much worse consequences, like brain inflammation," MacEachern said. Death is also a possibility. “It’s rare, but it can happen.”

The six infants have received a medication that acts as a short-term vaccine.

MacEachern said the potential exposures happened at medical facilities and businesses the patients went to before their diagnoses.

The outbreak has prompted a 25 percent spike in vaccinations in the last two weeks compared to this time last year.

Public health officials still aren’t sure how the measles made it to Spokane. Tests on the first patient show it’s a strain that’s more commonly found in Asia.