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Seattle middle school moves to remote learning over measles risk

Public Health – Seattle & King County is investigating the case but said the risk to the general public is low because most people in the area are vaccinated.

SEATTLE — Seattle’s Aki Kurose Middle School closed Friday and will move to remote learning next week after a reported case of measles in a student.

The school said it closed Friday so educators could prepare for online learning beginning Tuesday. The first day back in classrooms is expected to be June 5.

Public Health – Seattle & King County (Public Health) is investigating the case but said the risk to the general public is low because most people in the area are vaccinated.

According to health officials, the child was at the following public locations before being diagnosed with measles.

  • Aki Kurose Middle School on May 11 from noon-5:45 p.m. and on May 12 from 8:45 a.m.-5:45 p.m.
  • Pike Place Market on May 13 from 3:45 p.m.-6:45 p.m.
  • World Market, located at 2103 Western Ave., Seattle, on May 13 from 4:15 p.m.-6:45 p.m.
  • HopeCentral Pediatrics & Behavioral Health on May 15 from 2 p.m.-5:45 p.m.

The times include the period when the child was at the location and two hours after. According to Public Health, the measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after someone infectious leaves the area.

Public Health advises anyone who was at the above locations during the times listed could have been exposed to the virus and should:

  • Find out if you were vaccinated or have ever had measles previously and make sure your vaccinations are up to date
  • Call your healthcare provider if you develop an illness with fever or unexplained rash — do not go to a clinic or hospital without first calling and telling them you want to be evaluated for measles
  • If you are not immune, the most likely time you would become sick would be between May 18 and June 5

Public Health said in some cases an individual exposed to the virus can get vaccinated afterward to prevent illness, but to check with your healthcare provider.

“Measles is highly contagious. If you don’t have immunity, you can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been," said Elysia Gonzales, medical epidemiologist for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “The best protection against measles is to get vaccinated. Two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine provides about 97% protection against getting infected by measles and that protection lasts a lifetime.”

According to Public Health, measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes that mainly spreads through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes.

Measles symptoms 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 can lead to ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and rarely, encephalitis (brain inflammation). 

Complications from measles can happen even in healthy people, but those at the highest risk include infants and children under 5 years, adults over 20 years, pregnant people, and people with weakened immune systems from medications or underlying diseases.  

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