Health Care

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

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

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.

People may have been exposed to the disease at about four dozen locations, including Portland International Airport and a Portland Trail Blazers game, county health officials said. One child has been hospitalized. Authorities say nine additional cases are suspected. So far in 2019, a single case of measles was reported in an adult traveller returning from the Philippines. Of the 34 cases, 24 are children between age 1 and 10. OR officials didn't provide the age of the adult infected there.

As of Sunday, there are 35 confirmed cases of measles in the state of Washington - an outbreak that has already prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency. Authorities in neighboring OR and Idaho have issued warnings.

But measles is still a big problem in other parts of the world. However, state laws allowing parents to opt out of mandatory vaccinations quickly began eroding those statistics, leading to outbreaks across the nation. At least 31 of those sick were not vaccinated. "The best protection against measles is vaccination".

But children who are immunocompromised - like those who are on steroids or who are undergoing chemotherapy, for example - are also unable to be vaccinated. Between one and three cases out of every 1,000 are fatal, he said.

"It's one of the most contagious viruses we have".

"It's all hands on deck. Vaccination is the only effective preventive measure against measles".

Vaccination rates in OR and Southwest Washington, where measles first broke out, are comparatively low. Herd immunity happens when unvaccinated individuals are protected from infection because nearly everyone around them has been vaccinated and is immune to a disease.

The vaccination rate in the area is 78 percent, lower than average, and that's making it harder to contain the outbreak.

The U.S. government recommends two vaccines that help prevent measles.

Data on Portland's vaccination rate for both shots wasn't immediately available. The measles vaccine is 98 percent effective. Because some people like to claim personal exemptions to getting the vaccine.

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. "Almost everyone who is not immune will get measles if they are exposed to the virus". Measles can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and even simply by breathing.

Every time an unvaccinated person who has been exposed to measles goes out in public, "it starts that clock over again", Armstrong said. In all but four instances, the person who had contracted the disease had not been immunized.

Telltale measles symptoms include high fevers, red and watery eyes, white spots in the mouth and skin rashes. Serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise from the disease in some cases.

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