BC officials preach caution following measles outbreak in Washington State

Faith Castro
January 28, 2019

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.

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.

This does not include the single confirmed case in Multnomah County.

Measles is a contagious virus that spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing.

Exposure sites related to the Multnomah County measles case can be found on Multnomah County's website.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Friday after dozens came down with the highly infectious disease in Washington's southernmost county.

In his proclamation, Inslee notes that a State of Emergency exists in all counties in the state of Washington, and direct the plans and procedures of the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan be implemented.

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On January 18, Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring declared a public health emergency in response to the measles outbreak. One person in Clark County has been hospitalized.

Idaho authorities have issued warnings, as well.

In B.C., children receive two doses of measles-containing vaccine, with the first after 12 months and the second at four years of age.

The centre adds that while it is expected that most travellers will be immune to measles, some individuals will be susceptible, including infants less than one-year-old or people who have never been immunized against measles.

Officials still are not sure where the Pacific Northwest outbreak began. 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. People are contagious with measles for up to four days before and up to four days after the rash appears.

Two doses of the vaccine in childhood are 97 percent effective and provide lifetime immunity.

Ninety percent of people exposed to measles who have not been vaccinated will get it, public health officials said. Serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise from the disease in some cases.

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