Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Washington Measles Outbreak Spreads

Washington Measles Outbreak Spreads

"The measles vaccine isn't flawless, but one dose is 93 percent effective at preventing illness", said Dr. Alan Melnick of the Clark County Public Health Department.

Health officials in Multnomah County, Oregon, where Portland is located, have reported 4 cases that are linked to the Washington outbreak, as well.

Washington state Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver) has introduced a measurethat would remove personal belief exemptions for the MMR vaccine. There have been calls in recent years for Canada to start a national registry to help officials keep better track of vaccination rates. One day without a new measles case might seem an indicator of hope the outbreak is over, but it unfortunately doesn't necessarily indicate the end. When administered after 72 hours, the vaccine is less likely to prevent illness, and if the person develops a rash, there is a small chance that the rash is due to the vaccine.

It's not just children that are getting vaccinated in the county, either. Since Jan. 1, 51 confirmed cases and 13 suspect cases have been identified.

In the USA, 79 cases of measles have been reported so far this year - already one-fifth of last year's total. Only 81% of 1 to 5 year olds in the county have received a dose of MMR, according to Clark County, Washington Public Health.

The surge in measles cases in 2018 followed a year in which the European Region achieved its highest ever estimated coverage for the second dose of measles vaccination (90% in 2017). No other information is being released to protect the person's identity. Among kindergartners, the vaccine rate for two doses of the MMR vaccine that includes measles is 94.3%.

What Other Cities Are at Risk?

One case of measles confirmed in Bell County
Denton County measles case is first in Dallas-Fort Worth, seventh in Texas

Part of the challenge facing public health officials is that Canada doesn't have a national vaccination registry and provinces track vaccine rates differently, meaning it can be hard to get an accurate, real-time sense of how many people are up-to-date on their shots - and where pockets of low immunization are.

"These outbreaks are associated with travelers who brought measles back from Israel and Ukraine, where large measles outbreaks are occurring", the CDC says.

Unvaccinated people who may have been exposed to the virus are urged to get vaccinated, Graham said.

The "anti-vaxxers" movement still thrives in many pockets of the United States.

Adult vaccination numbers in the county also rose. Three were confirmed in Harris County and one each in Galveston, Montgomery and Bell counties.

"There's no reason we should be having this outbreak", says Melnick.

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