Washington Declares State of Emergency Due to Measles Outbreak

Henrietta Brewer
January 29, 2019

A current statewide case count for the measles outbreak is available on DOH's website and will be updated daily.

Before the measles vaccination program began in the U.S.in 1963, about 3 to 4 million people in the USA got measles every year.

Public health officials in Washington say people may have been exposed to the risky disease at more than three dozen locations, including Portland International Airport, a Portland Trail Blazers game, an Amazon locker location and stores such as Costco and IKEA. No cases related to the Clark County outbreak have been reported in the province, but B.C.'s vaccination rate now sits below the 95 per cent necessary to achieve herd immunity. Authorities say nine additional cases are suspected. But the CDC confirmed that 349 people suffered from the measles in 26 states and Washington, DC, in 2018.

They added the outbreak could still be in its infancy as the incubation period of the virus averages 14 days.

"Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children", Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement.

So far, Clark County Public Health has found that 20 of those with the disease had not been immunized. "I can tell you, anybody who says that has never had measles". "These costs could have been prevented if we had everybody vaccinated".

Many of these objections stem from the anti-vaccine movement, recently declared one of the biggest threats to humanity by the World Health Organization.

Anti-vaccination propaganda has already led to province-wide measles outbreaks in 2014 and 2010, and the BCCDC is understandably concerned about another as the disease spreads through the neighbouring states.

The full vaccine is 97 percent effective and provides immunity for life. Of those, just 1 percent had medical exemptions, while a massive 7 percent objected due to "personal or religious reasons".

Every time an unvaccinated person who has been exposed to measles goes out in public, "it starts that clock over again", Armstrong said. Most people receive the MMR vaccine against measles at a young age, making the risk of contracting the infection very low. Those people stayed home and later got ill, Armstrong said. Symptoms such as high fever, rash all over the body, stuffy nose and red eyes typically disappear without treatment within two or three weeks.

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