February 21, 2019

BC residents warned of measles outbreak in Washington State

30 January 2019, 02:08 | Randall Craig

Spokane health district urges vaccinations as Washington measles cases rise to 34

Washington declares public health emergency after measles outbreak of mostly unvaccinated children

Clark County Public Health has identified 35 confirmed cases and 11 suspected cases since January 1, when it first began investigating the outbreak. The highly contagious childhood infection, which is caused by a virus, is considered extremely rare, with only 188 reported cases in the United States in 2015.

Inslee said the number of cases "creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties".

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, declared a statewide public health emergency for his state on Friday.

Health officials in OR have raised concerns that the virus could easily cross the border.

But for those people who choose not to vaccinate their kids, one state lawmaker is trying to change that. One or two of every 1,000 children who get measles will die from complications, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of cases has continued to rise, with 34 confirmed and nine suspected cases of the disease. The first known patient sought medical care on December 31, but it isn't known if other people may have gotten sick before that and did not seek treatment.

According to the Clark County Department of Public Health's investigation, at least 30 of its recorded cases were in people who were not immunized against the virus.

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.

Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles in the U.S.

"Measles is only potentially an airline flight away from hitting this community, so I urge people to go get their vaccines", Deese said.

The vaccination rate in the area is 78 percent, lower than average, and that's making it harder to contain the outbreak. "And then you see another generation of cases", he said. "It's an uphill battle for us, as public health professionals, to try to get the right information out there".

The measles vaccination rate for 2-year-olds in Multnomah County, home to Portland, was 87 percent in 2017, according to state data.

Both Washington and OR allow vaccine exemptions for personal and philosophical reasons. The first MMR dose is recommended at 12 months, the second at 4 to 6 years old. Initial symptoms include fever, cough, watery eyes, and a runny nose; a blotchy red rash will typically spread to all over the infected individual's body roughly three to five days later. The CDC says one of the reasons for the increase in cases is the spread of the disease in communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.

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