Measles Outbreak Causes Official State of Emergency in Washington

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.

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

Officials said 30 of the cases involved people who have not had a measles immunization; the other four are not verified. Luckily, there has only been one hospitalization thus far. Now, 35 cases have been confirmed in Clark County, a southwestern county that includes Vancouver, and 11 potential cases are awaiting confirmation.

A news release on the governor's website says the Washington State Department of Health, or DOH, has implemented an infectious disease incident management structure so it can manage the public health aspects of the outbreak through investigations and lab testing. The first known patient sought medical care on December 31, but it is unknown if other people may have gotten sick before that and did not seek treatment.

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.

In the USA last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles, health officials say. Those people stayed home and later got ill, Armstrong said.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports that symptoms typically surface a week to two weeks after an individual becomes infected with measles, which is why people are unlikely to know they're infected right away and may spread it themselves. Neurological disorders and swelling, deafness and compromised immune systems are some of the problems people could face even years after recovering from the measles. "Clearly this is going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it wouldn't surprise me if we were in the seven figures by the time we're done here", he said. "And then you see another generation of cases", he said. OR also has a high nonmedical exemption rate for vaccinations-one 2018 state analysis found a rate among kindergarteners of 7.5 percent, with the number for K-12 students climbing as high as 10 percent in some counties.

In 2000, measles was considered eradicated in the United States, thanks to vaccination. The measles vaccine consists of two shots, one given by age 2 and the second usually between ages 4 and 6.

Two doses of the vaccine in childhood are 97 percent effective and provide lifetime immunity.

Virginia does allow vaccine exemptions for religious and medical reasons. The measles virus is transmitted by air very easily, and people are contagious several days before they show any symptoms.

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