Measles Outbreak Worsens in Washington State


A measles outbreak near Portland has sickened dozens of people in OR and Washington, with several more cases suspected, and public health officials scrambling to contain the virus say low vaccination rates are making the situation worse. As of this writing, 35 confirmed cases of the deadly and extraordinarily virulent disease have been confirmed, and several more patients are now suspected of having contracted it. Washington's governor has declared a state of emergency. Measles is an incredibly savage disease that still kills more than a hundred thousand people a year, majority children. However, state laws allowing parents to opt out of mandatory vaccinations quickly began eroding those statistics, leading to outbreaks across the nation. In recent years, however, the viral illness has popped up again from NY to California and sickened hundreds. The outlet reported that 7.9 percent of children in Clark County were exempt in the 2017-2018 school year from vaccines required for kindergarten entry, making it a hotspot for outbreaks.

Clark County has declared a public health emergency related to the outbreak.

"What keeps me up at night is eventually having a child die from this completely preventable situation", he said. Neurological disorders and swelling, deafness and compromised immune systems are some of the problems people could face even years after recovering from the measles. Rep. Paul Harris, who represents Clark County, says his bill in the House is aiming to get personal exemptions off the table only when it comes to the measles. After someone is exposed to measles, illness develops in about one to three weeks.

Last week, a person infected with measles attended a Portland Trail Blazers home game in OR amid the outbreak.

They announced Monday that others could have been infected at the popular Oregon Museum of Science & Industry in Portland and a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the bedroom community of Vancouver, Washington.

31 of the confirmed patients had not been vaccinated against measles.

Clark County has already spent more than $100,000 trying to contain the outbreak, and staff is being pulled from other duties, including restaurant inspections, he said.

Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles in the U.S. 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. The measles vaccine consists of two shots, one given by age 2 and the second usually between ages 4 and 6. The measles vaccine is 98 percent effective.

"The media tends to distort this", she said.

"Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal in small children", Inslee said in a statement Friday.

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