Press Release: You Can Help Protect Against Measles

Great Falls, MT – In response to the recently publicized measles outbreaks in New York and Washington State, the Cascade City-County Health Department would like to reassure residents that they can take steps to protect themselves, their families, and the community from this potentially serious and very easily spread illness.

We have not identified any cases of measles in Montana since 1990, and with continued diligence we hope to maintain that trend. However, measles is present in many places across the nation. In 2018, 372 cases of measles were reported from 26 states in the US, with an additional 79 cases reported in 10 states since January 1, 2019. If you are traveling, be aware of local measles risk in the places you intend to visit.

“If someone who has measles has been in a specific location (such as a doctor’s office), that area is considered contaminated for up to two hours after they have left. So, anyone else who goes there will be considered ‘exposed.'”

Measles is truly a highly infectious disease. If someone who has measles has been in a specific location (such as a doctor’s office), that area is considered contaminated for up to two hours after they have left. So, anyone else who goes there will be considered “exposed.” Health officials request that if someone is not feeling well and suspects measles, it is very important that they call the doctor’s office before going to a clinic or emergency room.

Symptoms for measles usually start with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. Then the individual will develop a rash that spreads over the body. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing.

The other step individuals can take is to make sure you and your child(ren) are protected with the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Vaccination is the single best way to avoid measles and prevent the spread of the disease. CCHD has vaccine on hand and Public Health Nurses are available for immunizations on a walk-in basis during clinic hours.

CCHD Immunization Clinic Hours:

  • Tuesday 8:30AM – 11:30AM
  • Wednesday through Friday 8:30AM – 11:30AM; 1:00PM-4:30PM

CCHD accepts all insurance and other forms of payment, and no child will ever be denied immunizations due to inability to pay.

“Of course, the first step to take is to ensure immunizations are up to date, but also be diligent about watching for symptoms. If you think you may have measles, please help protect others in our community by calling your doctor or a clinic before personally visiting [a provider].”

Once more:

Tanya Houston, Health Officer for Cascade County, reiterates the steps residents can take, “All of us are responsible for the prevention of illnesses like measles in our community. Of course, the first step to take is to ensure immunizations are up to date, but also be diligent about watching for symptoms. If you think you may have measles, please help protect others in our community by calling your doctor or a clinic before personally visiting so that a risk assessment and best course of action can be developed.” She goes on to add “we are confident that diligence on the part of our Agency and the public can help ensure the continued health of our community, even in the unfortunate event that measles makes it to Montana.”

For more information, please call CCHD at 406-454-6950.

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