Measles Outbreak Worsens In Washington As Governor Declares Public Health Emergency

A measles outbreak in Washington State has triggered a state of emergency. In Clark County, where 35 cases have been reported, 31 were not immunized.

"Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children", Inslee said in the declaration.

Washington Department of Health officials announced that as of Monday afternoon there have been 36 confirmed cases and 11 suspected cases of the disease. That is a significant increase from Friday's reported numbers when Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency.

With at least one confirmed case of measles in Colorado there's growing concern not too far in the northwest part of the country.

There are another nine suspected cases.

Washington state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist told NPR's Patti Neighmond this is likely only the beginning of the epidemic since numerous families with infected children traveled to very public places, including Costco, Ikea, the Portland International Airport and the arena where the Trail Blazers play.

People with measles symptoms should not go to child care facilities, school, work or out in public, since they may spread the disease to others.

Measles virus travels through the air.

Symptoms of measles typically appear between 10 to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus.

In the last few days, there has been an outbreak of measles in the Washington state just across the line from Portland, Oregon. Serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise from the disease in some cases. Most of the patients are children under 10, and one child has been hospitalized.

There is also one case in King County, which includes Seattle. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of non-vaccinated individuals exposed to someone with the disease will also become infected. The measles vaccine is available as a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and is available from your local health unit, family doctor, and many pharmacists. To this day, it still kills 100,000 children a year worldwide, most under the age of five. With 35 cases of measles now in an outbreak in the Vancouver, WA area, lawmakers are looking to put a stop to the personal exemption silliness. It is paramount that no more people get infected and that the outbreak is contained. Travelers infected overseas can bring the virus into the country and spread it, causing periodic outbreaks. In 2015, there were 188 cases, including some linked to an outbreak that started at the Disneyland amusement park.

Twenty-six of the confirmed patients had not been vaccinated against measles, and the vaccination status of four other patients is unknown.

"For decades, vaccines were given and compliance was very high, and there are a lot of people, especially in the USA, who have no experience with these vaccine-preventable illnesses", Deese said. "And we have a vaccine that is known to be very safe and wildly effective". The measles vaccine is 98 percent effective.

But there has been a recent rise in unvaccinated children.

Measles is caused by a virus that presents as fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by full body rash of tiny red spots, according to the CDC.

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