Measles Outbreak: What You Need To Know About Disease

Henrietta Brewer
February 1, 2019

With an outbreak of measles centered in Clark County, Gov. Jay Inslee Friday announced a state of emergency, calling the situation an "extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties". Clark County has information about areas where measles exposures have happened on their website.

Due to lower than normal vaccination rates in areas near Portland, officials said people in the area were exposed to the deadly disease at more than three dozen locations, wrote the Los Angeles Times. However, some of the people infected with the virus have visited public places like the Portland International Airport, and Washington Department of Health epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist says the outbreak is expected to move across the state. The measles vaccine is very effective.

Measles is highly contagious and can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Vancouver, Washington has 30 confirmed cases.

Officials still are not sure where this Pacific Northwest outbreak began.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) says, so far, there have been no infections in B.C. due to the Washington State outbreak. Authorities in neighboring OR and Idaho have issued warnings. The first known patient sought medical care on December 31, but it is unknown if other people may have gotten sick before that and did not seek treatment.

With measles apparently making a comeback in the U.S., Seattle Children's Hospital pediatrician Douglas J. Opel said that preventive steps need to be made urgently. "These costs could have been prevented if we had everybody vaccinated".

The outbreak is in an anti-vaccination hotspot near Portland, Ore., according to CBS News. The CDC says in the province children receive two doses of measles-containing vaccine during routine immunization. For the most recent years of data available, 87.3 per cent of children turning two had received one dose of measles vaccine, and 88.4 per cent of children turning seven had received two doses, based on data in the provincial immunization registry reported by BC health authorities.

Both Washington and OR allow vaccine exemptions for personal and philosophical reasons.

"The measles virus basically only lives in the air or in the environment for about two hours".

Before the measles vaccination program began in the 1963, about 3 to 4 million people in the US got measles every year. "If there's anybody out there that has not taken the vaccine and can get it, then they should". Those people stayed home and later got ill, Armstrong said.

Other reports by iNewsToday