Once eradicated in U.S., measles outbreak sickens 35 in two states

Henrietta Brewer
January 29, 2019

The 35 confirmed cases in Washington state prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency. The outlet reported that 7.9 percent of children in Clark County were exempt in the 2017-2018 school year from vaccines required for kindergarten entry, making it a hotspot for outbreaks. Authorities in neighboring OR and Idaho have issued warnings.

The vaccination status of four others who were infected is unknown.

Papich said there has been one suspected case so far in Spokane County, but it was determined to not be measles. The majority of the cases involve children younger than 10.

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.

It could be weeks or even months before the "exquisitely contagious" virus runs its course in Washington, Dr. Alan Melnick, the Clark County health officer, said Friday. The current law in place allows parents to decline immunization for children based on "philosophical or personal objections", health risks as confirmed by a licensed physician, or religious beliefs.

Measles was eradicated in the USA after a safe and cheap vaccine was developed in 1963, but in recent years, outbreaks from NY to California have sickened hundreds. "Many state courts have weighed in and the right to practice a religion, the right to choose, does not include the liberty to expose a community or a child to a disease", Harris said.

If you feel like you may have the measles, make sure you call the doctor before you go in for a visit so they can protect others from contracting the viral illness.

Though the measles MMR vaccine has been highly effective since it was first widely distributed in the United States in 1968, there has been a rising trend of parents deciding against vaccinating their children.

There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Measles symptoms tend to manifest seven to 21 days after exposure. Infected droplets from the individual with measles can spray into the air or land on a surface, where they remain active and contagious for hours. Once a person has measles, about 90% of close contacts who are susceptible to it will develop the disease, she added.

Washington state officials are now beginning the arduous and costly task of tracking down everyone who might have been exposed to the infection and cautioning them to be on the alert for symptoms, including runny nose, red eyes, fever and rash.

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