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Measles scare was unfounded, Island County health officials say

News of a German Measles outbreak on South Whidbey has turned out to be unfounded, according to island health officials.

“We can call off the code red,” said Brad Thomas, health officer for Island County.

Last week, a 17-year-old girl visited a Freeland nurse practitioner and tested positive for the virus, also known as Rubella. The girl was misdiagnosed, however, and the error wasn’t discovered until after the practitioner had posted alerts on Facebook and warned local schools, Thomas said.

“There’s a bunch of people on South Whidbey who are scared their kids will get Rubella,” he said.

Alerting the community of an outbreak is the appropriate step, said Thomas — it’s just the diagnosis in this case was incorrect.

He added that German measles is difficult to detect. Up to 50 percent of those who have contracted the virus don’t even know they have it, he said.

Also, it’s not lethal to adults or children but can be dangerous to pregnant women, resulting in a high chance of children born with hearing loss or other congenital birth defects.

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