Health Officials Scramble To Contain Measles Outbreak

Faith Castro
January 31, 2019

There were 35 cases of the measles in Clark County, which sits on the state's southern border, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. The vaccination status of four others who were infected is unknown. The outbreak is being closely monitored and one person has been taken to the hospital.

So far, 31 of the 35 confirmed patients in Clark County had not been vaccinated against measles.

The counties' public health officials urge those who believe they or their child have contracted the disease to contact their medical office and plan a visit. OR officials didn't provide the age of the adult infected there.

Public health officials are scrambling to contain a measles outbreak in the U.S. Northwest and are warning people to vaccinate their children. Authorities in neighboring OR and Idaho have issued warnings. The measles vaccine is available as a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and is available from your local health unit, family doctor, and many pharmacists. Officials now worry the virus will spread to other large metropolitan areas.

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.

"Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children", Inslee said in his proclamation.

Before the vaccine was introduced in 1963 measles was the single leading killer of children in the world.

In 2018, 17 outbreaks and 349 cases have been reported in 27 jurisdictions of the United States. People who are not killed by the disease may still develop serious, lifelong complications. Two of the facilities are among more than three dozen places where people may have been exposed to measles.

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"It's all hands on deck. 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. "Being vaccinated provides very good protection against the measles".

Vaccination is the most effective preventative measure and there is data to show that it has saved millions of lives.

Washington is one of 18 states that allows parents to decide not to vaccinate their children due to moral, personal, or other beliefs. He says his bill will only allow medical exemptions.

Measles is a contagious virus that spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. All school-age children, university students and those traveling out of the country and born on or after January 1, 1970 should have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine, as should health-care workers born on or after January 1, 1957.

"If you're fully immunized, it doesn't matter if you've been exposed to measles", Castrodale said.

Earlier this week, authorities were successful in identifying several people who had been exposed but were not sick yet.

"There are people who are resistant to getting vaccinated", Koenig said. It can also be hard to catch early signs of the illness; symptoms generally start to appear seven to 14 days after infection, meaning that people can spread the disease before they know they are sick.

The rash and fever will typically run their course after a few days, though in rare cases it can cause encephalitis (infection of the brain), pneumonia, and low birth weight in babies born to infected women.

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