Measles outbreak prompts state of emergency declaration by Washington governor


The governor of Washington state has declared a state of emergency over a measles outbreak that has sickened dozens of people in a county with one of the state's lowest vaccination rates. Health officials expect the number of cases to continue to rise. "The existence of 26 confirmed cases in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties".

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, declared a statewide public health emergency for his state on Friday.

Washington Department of Health officials announced that as of Monday afternoon there have been 36 confirmed cases and 11 suspected cases of the disease. The first known patient sought medical care on December 31, but it isn't known if other people may have gotten sick before that and did not seek treatment.

Misinformation is circulating on social media, said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County public health director.

In the US last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles.

"Two weeks after the exposure you might see some cases, and those people who got sick are exposing other people".

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The CDC also noted that the virus can be prevented with the MMR vaccine.

"We already send the letters to the parents", said principal Andrey Dolbinin. "We know that we have a highly effective vaccine, and it's really due to under-vaccination that it is coming back".

While nearly all states allow exemptions from their vaccination legislation on religious grounds, Washington state is one of 18 states that also allow exemptions on the grounds of personal or moral beliefs.

Clark County, Washington, has a vaccination rate of 78 per cent, well below the level necessary to protect those with compromised immune systems or who can't get vaccinated because of medical issues or because they are too young. Measles can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and even simply by breathing. One vaccine provides 93 per cent immunity from measles, and two shots provide 97 per cent protection. The disease is contagious from approximately four days before the characteristic rash appears to four days after the rash appears. "However, the majority of people exposed to measles are not at-risk of developing the disease since most people have either been vaccinated or have had measles in the past, before vaccination became routine".

Every time an unvaccinated person who has been exposed to measles goes out in public, "it starts that clock over again", Armstrong said. Because some people like to claim personal exemptions to getting the vaccine. Serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise from the disease in some cases.

Measles usually manifests as a combination of high fever, as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit, along with what is known as the three Cs: cough, coryza (another word for runny nose), and conjunctivitis or pink eye, Sammons explained.