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12 measles cases reported in Washington state

In the last month, a dozen cases of measles have been reported to Washington public health officials, who are closely monitoring the spread of the illness.

This number exceeds the normal range of three to five cases a year, said Donn Moyer, the media relations manager at the state Department of Health. There is a good possibility more cases will develop, he added.

Those with the illness live in Whatcom, San Juan and Kitsap counties, but while they were contagious, may have exposed others at several locations in King County, including the Marshall’s store in West Seattle, Sea-Tac Airport and the ferry Tacoma, which travels between Seattle and Bainbridge Island.

At the Vashon Island School District, nurse Sarah Day spoke to her concerns about the growing number of cases.

“Our district is not prepared for a measles outbreak because of our high exemption rate, especially among kindergarten students and FamilyLink,” she said.

The exemption rates for both are 21 percent and more than 30 percent, respectively, she added.

Should an unvaccinated person have been exposed to measles, that person could be asked to be isolated for a period of three weeks, Day said.

People who contract measles, known as one of the most contagious illnesses, can infect other people four days before they have any idea they are sick, Moyer said.

People at highest risk from exposure to measles include those who are unvaccinated, pregnant women, infants under 6 months old and those with weakened immune systems.

For more information about the disease, see www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/news/2014/14040801.aspx.

— Susan Riemer

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