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Recent measles outbreak limited to single Canyon County household

A small glass vile with a light blue cap and a box of the vials with the words "measles, mumps, and rubella virus vaccine live"
Elaine Thompson
A dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is displayed at a clinic.

A measles outbreak tied to a Nampa man who traveled internationally has been contained to a single household.

State and local health officials had been monitoring more than 50 people who they say were exposed to the unidentified traveler, who returned through the Boise airport Sept. 13. He was likely infectious at that time, and the following two days before testing positive for measles.

Only members of the traveler’s household contracted the highly contagious virus, and all recovered, according to the Southwest Public Health District.

“I'm very thankful for the household,” said Andy Nutting, SWHD epidemiologist. “They were very willing to work with us and I'm very appreciative of it.”

Neither the traveler, nor members of his household were vaccinated against measles, according to health officials. Of the more than 50 people exposed in Idaho, only about 15 were considered susceptible to measles; unvaccinated or unable to verify a history of vaccination.

“The monitoring period is about 21 days,” Nutting explained. “As of today, [the last person being monitored following exposure] never developed any symptoms, and so we're pretty much out of the woods,” he said.

Most people exposed on the return airplane flight with the traveler were vaccinated or had proof of immunity. Health officials in Idaho contacted peers in other states where other airline passengers on the same flight may have deplaned, but no other cases were reported.

“I would say we were fairly lucky,” Nutting said.

Health officials will remain on alert for another 21 days just to ‘cover their bases,’ before fully putting the outbreak in the rearview mirror. The recent cases were Idaho’s first since two people tested positive for measles in 2019. Prior to that, the state had not had a confirmed case of measles in nearly two decades.

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.

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