What parents need to know about Washington state measles outbreak 2019

Grant Boone
January 29, 2019

Authorities say nine additional cases are suspected.

The decision to declare a state of emergency means state agencies and departments can use state resources to help manage the outbreak. In 2018, six cases of measles were reported by B.C residents.

"Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal in small children", Inslee said in a statement Friday. "The existence of 26 confirmed cases in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties". Contagious people also went to Portland International Airport, as well as to hospitals, schools, stores, churches and restaurants across Washington's Clark County and the two-state region, county officials said.

Measles virus travels through the air. Measles can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and even simply by breathing. Serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise from the disease in some cases. Twenty-four of the cases were in children between 1 and 10 years old.

In people who have been immunized, it is possible to contract the illness, but it usually has a milder course, Sammons explains. In the remaining cases, authorities had not yet verified their immunization status.

There were 34 cases of the measles in Clark County, which sits on the state's southern border, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon.

Children under the age of one can not be immunized.

There has also been an adult case.

As of Monday there 35 confirmed cases in Clark County and one case in King County. Ninety percent of people exposed to measles who have not been vaccinated will get it, public health officials said.

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The threat also spread in the past few days; Deschutes County officials say someone visiting Bend on January 19 and 20 may have brought measles with them. To this day, it still kills 100,000 children a year worldwide, most under the age of five.

The vaccine has been part of routine childhood shots for decades, and measles was declared eliminated in the U.S.in 2000.

Officials still are not sure where this Pacific Northwest outbreak began.

Health officials say the outbreak is a textbook example of why it's critical to vaccinate against measles, which was eradicated in the US after the vaccine was introduced in 1963. The CDC attributed the jump to primarily unvaccinated people in the Orthodox Jewish communities in New York state, New York City and New Jersey. Travelers infected overseas can bring the virus into the country and spread it, causing periodic outbreaks. "Prior vaccination is critical to keeping people from contracting the virus if they are exposed to it".

Washington state has one of the lowest vaccination rates when it comes to measles.

If children get their measles vaccine, they are 95 percent protected.

The virus is something not to be taken lightly, Peter Jay Hotez, a vaccinologist at the Baylor College of Medicine told the publication.

"There are 18 states that still allow for personal exemptions, so we are by far in the minority". A claim that has been wholly refuted by the Centers for Disease Control.

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