Once eradicated in USA, measles outbreak sickens 35 in two states

Washington state has declared a state of emergency in Clark County, which is just north of Portland, Ore., because of a measles outbreak there.

According to the Mayo Clinic, measles spreads when an infected individual coughs, sneezes or talks near other people. Most of the patients are children under 10, and one child has been hospitalized. Of the 34 cases, 24 are children between age 1 and 10.

Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles in the U.S. But given the high rate of non-vaccination in "hotspot" areas, Peter J. Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, tells Stanley-Becker that he isn't surprised that outbreaks are happening. It's spread through those common winter companions, sneezing and coughing.

The CDC recommends people get the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to protect against those viruses. "Being vaccinated provides very good protection against the measles".

People who choose not to vaccinate their children are underestimating the dangers of the illness, said Melnick, who himself had measles as a child, before the vaccine was commonplace. "It's an uphill battle for us, as public health professionals, to try to get the right information out there". "These costs could have been prevented if we had everybody vaccinated".

Eighteen American states, including Washington and OR, allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children due to "philosophical beliefs", reports CBS News.

"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.

Both Washington and OR allow vaccine exemptions for personal and philosophical reasons.

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. The disease is so contagious that 90 per cent of unvaccinated people who are exposed will catch it.

People are contagious with measles for up to four days before and up to four days after the rash appears.

Thousands have been exposed when those sick with measles have shown up in public places like where the Portland Trailblazers play. Those people stayed home and later got ill, Armstrong said. It can cause serious complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis, and can be deadly.

Washington state officials are now beginning the arduous and costly task of tracking down everyone who might have been exposed to the infection and cautioning them to be on the alert for symptoms, including runny nose, red eyes, fever and rash.



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