Published: Mon, January 28, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Measles outbreak in Washington State leads to state of emergency

Measles outbreak in Washington State leads to state of emergency

The state of emergency directs Washington state agencies and departments to use their resources to assist affected areas in order to respond and recover.

Portland is in this county.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is warning residents about a measles outbreak in the state of Washington. Twenty-six of those suffering from the disease had not been immunized and the vaccination status of four others was unverified.

There are 25 confirmed cases in Clark County, and a single known case in King County after a man in his 50s contracted measles and was hospitalized following a recent trip to Vancouver, according to a news release from Inslee's office.

A state of emergency was declared in Washington's Clark County and at least one case has also been confirmed in OR, and it's not out of the question that the outbreak could travel north toward the Lower Mainland. Contagious people also went to Portland International Airport, as well as to hospitals, schools, stores, churches and restaurants across Washington's Clark County and the two-state region, county officials said. Public health officials are focused for now on preventing more exposures.

The disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 but has since made a comeback that is tied to imported cases and the rise of the anti-vaccine movement. Naus says similar under-vaccinated areas exist in our province, with even possibly as much as five per cent of young children in B.C. who are not vaccinated.

The CDC recommends people get the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to protect against those viruses.

Measles symptoms begin with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a rash that usually begins at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

Measles can lead to serious complications including pneumonia but the vaccine is up to 97 percent effective and protects recipients for life.

The virus, spread by coughing or sneezing, can remain in the air for up to two hours in an isolated space.

"Measles is a highly contagious disease and if you don't have immunity, you can get it just by being in a room where a person with measles has been", said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County.

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