Officials investigate suspected measles case in King County

Emergency declared in Oregon for measles outbreak in anti-vaccine hotspot

EnlargeGetty | Joe Amon

A major measles outbreak has struck a county in Washington state where vaccination rates of children have been plummeting. Additionally, the measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed.

"Public Health is continuing to identify and contact potential measles cases, and identify possible locations of public exposure", Washington county officials said, noting that the emergency declaration will help them fight the virus and access resources outside the region. The CDC recommends children get two doses of the vaccine. The immunization statuses of the other three patients there and the one in King County have not been verified.

In an outbreak report online, Clark County officials note that "measles is extremely contagious".

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. Measles immunization is part of the MMR and MMRV vaccinations routinely administered to young children.

At least one case required hospitalization, as well as an additional suspected case. Of those, just 1 percent had medical exemptions, while a massive 7 percent objected due to "personal or religious reasons".

The outbreaks in NY and Washington state began last fall, but they're still going on.

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Clark County health officials are urging anyone who has been exposed to the measles virus and believes they have symptoms to call their health care provider before visiting the medical office to make a plan that avoids exposing others in the waiting room.

The problem is especially pronounced, the paper found, in more than a dozen "hotspot metropolitan areas", including Portland and Seattle in the Northwest, Phoenix in the Southwest and Pittsburgh in the Northeast. In 2014, 667 cases were documented across the country, the most since measles' elimination.

According to a recent Blue Cross Blue Shield report, NY state has a high rate of vaccine refusal.

Previous year saw the second highest number of reported cases of measles since 2000, according to the CDC. The outbreaks were largely associated with travelers who brought the virus back from Israel, where there is now a widespread outbreak. People can spread measles before they have the characteristic measles rash.

Measles is a contagious virus that spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. But a series of outbreaks in recent years is evidence of unsafe backsliding in containment of the virus, Hotez said, blaming the anti-vaccination movement.

Measles complications can include ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and rarely, encephalitis (brain inflammation).

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