A single case of measles in Soldotna was confirmed by Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services last Tuesday, July 16, according to an announcement from DHSS.
According to the announcement, an unvaccinated teenager who is a resident of the Kenai Peninsula recently traveled out of state and began to show symptoms about 10 days after returning to Alaska. Before the person was diagnosed, they were in several public locations in a time frame where they could have been infectious. Anyone who was at the following locations during the times listed could have been exposed to measles:
At Froso’s Family Dining from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on July 8-13.
At Soldotna Urgent Care from 3 -7 p.m. on July 14.
At Central Peninsula Hospital’s Emergency Department from 5-11 p.m. on July 14.
The times include the period when the person was at the location and two hours after, as the measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after someone infectious leaves the area.
According to the Alaska Division of Public Health, most people in the area have immunity to the virus through vaccination, so risk to the general public is low. Anyone who feels they may have been exposed to the virus should find out if they have been vaccinated and call a health care provider if they develop an illness with fever, illness or an unexplained rash. To avoid possibly spreading the virus, people should let their health providers know they wish to be evaluated for measles before going to a clinic or hospital.
Measles symptoms typically appear between seven and 21 days after exposure and include fever, runny nose, red eyes, a cough and a sore throat that is followed by a rash and a high fever. About 30% of people who contract measles develop further complications including pneumonia, ear infections or diarrhea. In serious cases, the virus can be fatal.
Public Health Nurse Leslie Felts said that Alaska is the 29th state this year to identify a measles case in the 2019 outbreak. Prior to this year, Alaska’s last measles case occurred in Fairbanks in 2015. Felts said that the measles virus was completely eliminated in the United States in 2000.
Information on the outbreak and vaccination recommendations can be found on the DHSS website.
In Homer, the Homer Medical Center offers free measles vaccinations during its walk-in clinics from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday evenings until further notice. For more information, call Homer Medical at 235-8586.