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No measles cases in Montana; health officials monitoring Washington’s outbreak

BILLINGS – As neighboring states fight off an influx in measles cases, health professionals in Montana are watching for the potential for the disease to come west.

Measles is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus, according to information from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Information Specialist Jon Ebelt said there are no confirmed cases to hit Montana yet and said it’s been many years since Montana has had a case.

“The last measles case in Montana was in 1990,” Ebelt said in an email.

In Washington state, there have been 35 confirmed cases of measles and just recently Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency.

In Idaho, health officials are warning medical care providers to be on the lookout for symptoms.

According to the Idaho State Journal, so far no measles cases have been reported in Idaho, however experts say those who have been infected with the virus have visited public places such as airports. That has officials in Idaho anticipating that the outbreak is expected to move across western states.

And that could also be a concern for Montana.

Barbara Schneeman with RiverStone Health in Billings said they are watching the disease closely because society is so mobile.

The disease starts with a fever and soon after systems of a cough, running nose, and red eyes start to form in the patient.

Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. The rash can last for a week and coughing can last for 10 days. Children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are at high risk of getting a serious case of measles.

Measles is spread through the air and can be highly contagious, just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, can even infect another person for us to two hours.

For more information about measles and transmission, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

-Reported by Andrea Lutz/MTN News

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