Measles Outbreak Worsens In Washington As Governor Declares Public Health Emergency

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

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

The most recent figures available from Washington State Department of Health as of Saturday indicate the number of confirmed cases has since risen to 32 across two counties since January 1, with the majority of cases being in children 10 years old and younger.

Public health officials scrambling to contain a measles outbreak in the U.S. Northwest warned people to vaccinate their children Monday and anxious that it could take months to contain the highly contagious viral illness due to a lower-than-normal vaccination rate at the epicenter of the crisis.

A measles outbreak in Washington state has health professionals from coast to coast, including in southwest Virginia, sharing the importance of vaccinations. Authorities in neighboring OR and Idaho have issued warnings.

Twenty-six of the confirmed patients had not been vaccinated against measles, and the vaccination status of four others who were infected is unknown.

According to data from the Public Health Department in Clark County, where all but one of the confirmed measles cases occurred, the majority of measles cases involved children under 10. There is one case so far in Multnomah County, one in King County, Washington, and now a suspected case in Deschutes County.

"The existence of 26 confirmed cases in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties".

The first known patients in this outbreak sought medical care on December 31, but officials don't know if other people may have gotten sick before that and did not seek treatment, the AP reported.

Once upon a time, the United States had eliminated the measles, but outbreaks have increased as the anti-vaccine movement takes hold - and 18 states now allow for non-medical "philosophical" vaccination exemptions.

In the US last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles. Public health officials are focused for now on preventing more exposures. Those people stayed home and later got ill, Armstrong said. "And then you see another generation of cases", he said. Because measles is a highly contagious disease.

Virginia does allow vaccine exemptions for religious and medical reasons.

The first vaccine gives you a 93 percent protection against the measles and the second dose raises the effectiveness to 97 percent. It can be contracted without even being near a person with the virus because it lingers for up to two hours in the air of a room where a person with the measles has been.

Measles is caused by a virus that presents as fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by full body rash of tiny red spots, according to the CDC.

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