Health Care

Measles outbreak revives debate over vaccine laws

Measles outbreak revives debate over vaccine laws”

All but one case is centered in Clark County, which has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the state, with about one in four children not receiving their vaccinations.

Washington and OR are among 17 states that allow some type of non-medical exemption for vaccines for "personal, moral OR other beliefs", according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 43 people in Washington and OR have fallen ill in recent weeks with the extraordinarily contagious virus. More than a half-dozen more cases are suspected, and people who were exposed to the disease traveled to Hawaii and Bend, Oregon, raising the possibility of more diagnoses in the unvaccinated.

"Kids who are under the age of 12 months can't get vaccinated, pregnant women can't get vaccinated, our school children are not vaccinated to the 95 percent level", Dr. Sheffield said.

Now state lawmakers in Washington want to remove a provision that allows parents to opt out of vaccines for personal or philosophical beliefs. "We have no measles cases associated with this outbreak and we have no measles at all".

The National Vaccine Information Center, which opposes mandatory vaccination laws, said it opposed that bill and the current one.

"People are feeling extremely oppressed and feeling like they can't make an educated decision", said Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the group.

'If you have a large unvaccinated population and you add measles to the mix, one measles case will infect 90 percent of contacts, and the early symptoms are not distinguishable from other respiratory illnesses - and you're contagious at that point, ' Dr Melnick said. The best defense against infection is vaccination, which the CDC says is "about 97 percent effective".

The good news for Treasure Valley parents is that local schools have pretty high rates of children being up-to-date on their MMR shots.

Measles is still a big problem in other parts of the world, and travelers infected overseas can bring back the virus, causing periodic outbreaks.

The CDC also says 81 people brought measles into the USA from other countries last year-the greatest number of imported cases since the measles was eliminated from the U.S.in 2000. In some people, especially people who have chronic medical problems, are pregnant, or are malnourished, measles also leads to serious problems such as pneumonia, brain damage, blindness, deafness, and death.

The Central District Health Department noted that symptoms include fever, cough, red eyes, sore throat, runny nose and a rash that can spread over the body. "And a few days after that, you get that famous rash".

People may have been exposed to the disease at about four dozen locations, including Portland International Airport and a Portland Trail Blazers game, officials said. If exposed to the virus, anyone who is not immune is likely to get measles.



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