The measles virus Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The measles virus Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Report: Clallam’s measles outbreak price tag comes in at $223,223

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County’s deadly outbreak of measles in February and March cost taxpayers and businesses $223,223, according to a Clallam County Health and Human Services report.

The report, issued last week at a Clallam County Board of Health meeting, broke down the cost of the outbreak by agency.

According to the report, Clallam County bore $104,105 of the cost.

“Two people, for $40 each, could have prevented $104,000 in expenses,” Clallam County Commissioner Bill Peach said.

Olympic Medical Center had $36,000 in expenses, while the outbreak cost the state Department of Health $18,918 and the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., $33,200.

An additional $31,000 cost was spread among schools and clinics affected by the outbreak.

One health care workplace lost $23,000 because half of its employees were quarantined after being exposed to one of the infected patients, said Dr. Jeanette Stehr-Green, interim Clallam County Health Officer.

Bryon Monohon, Board of Health member and mayor of Forks, expressed frustration about the lack of good information available to families on making decisions on vaccinations.

“The [Internet] is filled with misinformation,” Monohon said.

According to the state Department of Health, children should be vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, with the first dose between 12 and 15 months and the second at four-to-six years.

Adults born after 1956 should have at least one measles vaccination, though two doses may be necessary for maximum immunity.

Stehr-Green said the vaccine is typically covered by insurance, including Medicaid, and can be purchased in a private clinic or pharmacy for about $40.

None of the five people initially diagnosed with measles in Clallam County in February and March had confirmed vaccinations prior to catching the illness, with the exception of the last case diagnosed March 4 in a man who had received a vaccine that hadn’t been administered in 44 years.

Those five cases included Clallam’s first confirmed case of measles in 20 years, a 52-year-old man who was diagnosed Feb. 1; a 5-year-old girl attending Olympic Christian School, who was diagnosed after she was exposed to the first case in a medical clinic; a 43-year-old man diagnosed Feb. 18, a friend of the 52-year-old man; a 14-year-old boy — the brother of the 5-year-old girl — who was diagnosed Feb. 19; and the adult male with a diagnosis March 4.

Each of the initial cases recovered from the illness.

A sixth case — a young Clallam County woman whose immune system was suppressed due to a medication she was taking — died at a hospital in Seattle.

It was the first confirmed measles death in the U.S. since 2003.

“We were startled. She was never on our radar. She never had any [traditional measles] symptoms,” Stehr-Green said.

She said the unidentified woman’s death was initially thought to be caused by pneumonia, and the underlying cause — measles — was only identified due to a routine autopsy performed by the University of Washington Medical Center.

“This incident was a tragedy of epic proportions. This was a preventable death,” she said.

The woman was one of a total of 257 people known to be exposed to the five known diagnosed cases, said Iva Burks, Clallam County Health and Human Services director.

It was only due to luck that the infected people were already “contained” when their illness emerged, and the aggressive response to the small outbreak prevented measles from potentially reaching thousands, Burks said.

“We’re extremely lucky that’s all there were,” she said.

________

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at [email protected]

More in News

Demonstrators protest about abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

States can ban abortion

Popular poplar trees on Port of Port Townsend property along the south side of Sims Way in Port Townsend are adorned with Italian names as a result of the Adopt-a-Poplar program instituted by the Gateway Poplar Alliance’s efforts to save them from being cut down. For a donation, a person can choose which poplar to adopt and which Italian name, $50 for a female name and $100 for a male name to be displayed. (Steve Mullensky/For Peninsula Daily News)
Adopt-a-Poplar program

Popular poplar trees on Port of Port Townsend property along the south… Continue reading

In this photo provided by the state Department of Natural Resources, a crane and boats are anchored next to a collapsed “net pen” used by Cooke Aquaculture Pacific to farm Atlantic Salmon near Cypress Island on Aug. 28, 2017, after a failure of the nets allowed tens of thousands of the nonnative fish to escape. A state jury on Wednesday awarded the Lummi Indian tribe $595,000 over the collapse of the net pen where Atlantic salmon were being raised, an event that elicited fears of damage to wild salmon runs and prompted the Legislature to ban the farming of the nonnative fish. (David Bergvall/Washington State Department of Natural Resources via AP, File)
East Jefferson, Port Ludlow fire districts consider merger

Community input to be sought before plan offered to voters

Port Angeles firefighters and paramedics come to the aid of a person who fell from the riprap and became trapped between rocks for three hours on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Woman trapped for 3 hours on hook

Extrication takes about 40 minutes

Mary Kelsoe of the Port Angeles Garden Club spreads topsoil in one of the decorative planters along the Esplanade along the Port Angeles waterfront on Wednesday. The planters, known as Billie Loo’s Garden after a longtime garden club member, are regularly maintained by fellow club members. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Decorative planters

Mary Kelsoe of the Port Angeles Garden Club spreads topsoil in one… Continue reading

No-shooting area to be considered at Cape George Colony

Jefferson County puts off deliberations until next week

Maren Gillette and Austin Tyree, on a road trip from Wenatchee, examine a piece of beach glass they picked up on the beach at North Beach in Port Townsend on Wednesday. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Beach walk

Maren Gillette and Austin Tyree, on a road trip from Wenatchee, examine… Continue reading

Most Read