Measles virus particle

Photo via CDC/Public Domain
This 3D render shows a measles virus particle. The University of Nevada, Reno and Washoe County Health District recently confirmed a UNR student had been infected by the measles, the first such case in years.

The Washoe County Health District confirmed Thursday the University of Nevada, Reno student diagnosed with the measles was vaccinated for the virus and had a booster.

“With the vaccine it is 90 percent effective, with two doses 97 percent,” Spokesman Phil Ulibarri said to the Reno Gazette-Journal. “But that means there is a 3 percent chance.”

The WCHD announced Wednesday, April 4, they had confirmed the student had the virus, but indicated the student does not pose a threat to the safety of the community. They are advising those who are not vaccinated to do so immediately.

“We want to get this message out because people who may have been exposed have a limited window for a prophylactic,” Ulibarri said.

According to the California Department of Public Health, the student has been connected to a measles outbreak the Bay Area.

“In the current outbreak, there are six confirmed cases and one suspect case among California residents. There are no other known measles outbreaks in California at this time,” a spokesman from the health department, Jorge De La Cruz, told the RGJ.

There are a total of six cases from the Bay Area. Five of the six cases are Santa Clara County, involving individuals who were not vaccinated, the Santa Clara County Department of Health reports. The sixth case located in Alameda County.

“All cases are linked to an unvaccinated traveler who was exposed in Europe and developed measles after returning to the San Francisco Bay Area,” the Alameda Public Health Department posted on their website.

The student visited several locations within Washoe County over an approximate time frame of six days in which they were deemed infectious. Besides the university, the student visited a ski resort, a grocery store, and a restaurant.

“Measles is a highly contagious viral disease,” Washoe County District Health Officer, Kevin Dick said in a statement. “A small number of cases are capable of quickly producing epidemics, that’s why it is important for people to take appropriate precautions to protect the health and safety of the community. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and rash. Although measles is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age.”

An announcement from the university was also sent to students Wednesday afternoon. The statement advises students to schedule an appointment with the Student Health Center to receive the MMR vaccine if they have not already. Faculty and staff were encouraged to reach out to their healthcare provider for an immunization.

“Per University policy, students who are not immunized are not permitted on campus due to the health risk, unless they receive immunizations or until they are allowed to return by the health authority,” the statement reads.

The university told the RGJ there are approximately 300 students with waivers for the required MMR vaccine — 200 for religious or medical reasons and 100 online-based students.

According to the Center for Disease Control, measles was eliminated from the Americas in 2002, and eventually completely eliminated in 2016.

Symptoms of the virus include coughing, sore throat, red eyes, running nose and fever that is usually followed by a rash that spreads all over the body. According to the Washoe County Health District, the measles virus is easily transmitted by direct contact with infectious droplets or by airborne spread when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. When the measles virus is airborne or transmitted to objects, the droplets have a survival time of two hours or less.

Furthermore, the Washoe County Health District says that anyone who has visited the areas listed below may be prone to being exposed to the virus and should call their office at 775-328-2447 to determine their risk for measles. Those at a higher risk include pregnant women, infants younger than 12 months, and people with severely compromised immune systems.


Measles Exposure Sites:

Tuesday, March 27th

  • UNR Campus: Ansari Business Building, 9am – 12pm.
  • UNR Campus: Fleischmann Agriculture Building, 1:30pm – 4:45pm.
  • UNR Campus: Jot Travis Building, 3pm – 6:15pm.
  • UNR Campus: Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, 5pm – 8pm.

Wednesday, March 28th

  • UNR Campus: William Raggio Building, 1pm – 4pm.
  • UNR Campus: William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center Building, 2:30pm – 5:45pm.
  • UNR Campus: Frandsen Humanities Building, 4pm – 7:15pm
  • UNR Campus: Admissions Building, 2pm – 4:20pm.
  • UNR Campus: Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, 5pm – 8pm.

Thursday, March 29th

  • UNR Campus: Ansari Business Building, 9am – 12pm.
  • UNR Campus: Fleischmann Agriculture Building, 1:30pm – 4:45pm.
  • UNR Campus: Jot Travis Building, 3pm – 6:15pm.

Saturday, March 31st

  • CVS Minute Clinic, 680 North McCarran Blvd, Sparks, NV 89431, 3pm – 6pm.
  • Renown Urgent Care – Vista, 910 Vista Blvd, Sparks, NV 89434, 4pm – 7pm.
  • Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Funitel restroom, 12:30pm – 2:40pm.
  • Raising Cane’s, 2175 N. Virginia St., Reno, NV 89503, 2:30pm – 5pm.

Sunday, April 1st

  • Walmart at the intersection of Mae Anne and McCarran, 5260 W 7th St, Reno, NV 89523, 4pm – 7pm.

Monday, April 2nd

  • UNR Student Health Center, 1664 North Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89557, 9am – 1pm.

Karolina Rivas can be reached at and on Twitter @karolinarrivas.