Measles Outbreak Sparks Public Health Emergency in Washington State

Grant Boone
January 30, 2019

That is a significant increase from Friday's reported numbers when Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency.

The BCCDC says while most travellers will be immune to measles, those that aren't will be susceptible to a highly infectious disease spread through the air by coughing and sneezing.

The most recent figures available from Washington State Department of Health as of Saturday indicate the number of confirmed cases has since risen to 32 across two counties since January 1, with the majority of cases being in children 10 years old and younger.

The CDC also says the rise in measles cases is tied to an increase in the number of travelers who get measles overseas and bring it into the U.S. Of the 34 cases, 24 are children between age 1 and 10. The illness can have serious complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.

"Two weeks after the exposure you might see some cases, and those people who got sick are exposing other people". In all but four instances, the person who had contracted the disease had not been immunized. The vaccination status for the remaining four is, for now, unclear. The outbreak is being closely monitored and one person has been taken to the hospital.

Also covered: What the county is doing to keep watch for measles, and what you should be looking for if you're the parent of a child at risk.

In a health alert from King County, it was said the man had recently traveled to Clark County.

The first vaccine gives you a 93 percent protection against the measles and the second dose raises the effectiveness to 97 percent.

Before the vaccine was introduced in 1963 measles was the single leading killer of children in the world. However, state laws allowing parents to opt out of mandatory vaccinations quickly began eroding those statistics, leading to outbreaks across the nation.

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The Associated Press reports that two confirmed cases of measles in Hawaii were in unvaccinated children who traveled to Hawaii from Washington state.

Thirty-one of those 35 people were unvaccinated.

But children who are immunocompromised - like those who are on steroids or who are undergoing chemotherapy, for example - are also unable to be vaccinated.

As NPR reported, "In 2014, there were 667 cases in the U.S".

"Anti-vaxxer" parents and activists in Washington and nearby OR have been calling on the states to not require the measles vaccines.

The MMR vaccine covers measles, mumps and rubella.

Pediatrician Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor College of Medicine's National School of Tropical Medicine, told NPR there is a very-aggressive anti-vaccine lobby throughout the Pacific Northwest that have effectively driven up the rates of vaccine non-compliance, leaving scores of children vulnerable to the infection.

There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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