Public Health Emergency Issued After Measles Outbreak In Washington State Confirmed by Health Officials

So far 26 measles cases have been confirmed, most of them children who have not been vaccinated. The illness can be fatal, dangerous for unvaccinated children, and doctors are saying even some vaccinated adults could be at risk.

Measles is a contagious disease caused by a virus that presents as fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by full body rash of tiny red spots, according to the CDC. It is highly contagious and spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

In the Clark County outbreak, people who have contracted the virus have visited community hubs like schools, churches, and doctor’s offices, along with a Costco, an Ikea, a Dollar Store and other locations, according to Clark County Public Health.

On Jan. 7 someone with measles was at Portland International airport, while another infected person went to the Portland Trail Blazers game on Jan. 11.

Because measles is among the most highly contagious of all infectious diseases, it flares up in areas with low vaccination rates, Peter J. Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told the the Washington Post.

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.

Measles, which was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 thanks to vaccination, is now seeing a resurgence due to people choosing not to vaccinate.

Cases are up 30 percent worldwide, according to the World Health Oganization, which just last week named vaccine hesitancy — the “reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability” — as one of the top threats to global health in 2019.

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