Portneuf Medical Center Employee Health Supervisor Randee Hokanson prepares a measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

MOSCOW – Measles have arrived in Idaho. Idaho Public Health District 2 announced the first confirmed case on June 5 followed by a second case on Friday.

Both cases are from Moscow in the Idaho panhandle. These two cases are the first confirmed measles in Idaho since 2001.

Medical professionals diagnosed the first case of measles at the Gritman Medical Center in Moscow for a child too young to be immunized. The second case was a family member who was partially immunized due to age.

Public Health District 2 issued the following statement: “Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease. It mainly spreads through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes.

“Measles symptoms (fever, cough, and red, watery eyes, followed by a rash) begin seven to 21 days after exposure. Measles is contagious from approximately four days before the rash appears through four days after the rash appears. People can spread measles before they have the characteristic measles rash.

“Measles complications can include ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and rarely, encephalitis (brain inflammation). Complications from measles can happen even in healthy people but those at highest risk include infants and children under five years, adults over 20 years, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems from drugs or underlying disease.”

No measles have been reported outside of Latah County. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Public Health District 2 and the Gritman Medical Center in Moscow are working together to prevent the spread of measles to other Idaho locations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last Wednesday that the number of measles cases nationwide so far in 2019 was 1,001.

Alex Azar, secretary of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, released the following statement:

“The Department of Health and Human Services has been deeply engaged in promoting the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, amid concerning signs that there are pockets of under-vaccination around the country. The 1,000th case of a preventable disease like measles is a troubling reminder of how important that work is to the public health of the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alongside others across HHS, will continue our efforts to support local health departments and healthcare providers in responding to this situation, with the ultimate goal of stopping the outbreak and the spread of misinformation about vaccines, and increasing the public’s confidence in vaccines to help all Americans live healthier lives, safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.

“We cannot say this enough: vaccines are a safe and highly effective public health tool that can prevent this disease and end the current outbreak. The measles vaccine is among the most-studied medical products we have and is given safely to millions of children and adults each year. Measles is an incredibly contagious and dangerous disease. I encourage all Americans to talk to your doctor about what vaccines are recommended to protect you, your family, and your community from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”