Washington State Officials Declare State Of Emergency As Measles Outbreak Continues

Clark County Public Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick said the measles outbreak which has spread bey

Measles outbreak prompts state of emergency declaration by Washington governor

As of Sunday, there are 35 confirmed cases of measles in the state of Washington - an outbreak that has already prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency. Washington state has declared a public health emergency.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, just over 77 percent Washington state kindergartners were unvaccinated because of personal exemptions.

Officials in OR and Idaho have issued warnings.

Although a high percentage of vaccinated people in one community can keep the virus from spreading, a concept known as herd immunity, the number of vaccinated people required to stop a virus as infectious as measles is close to 95%. One child has been hospitalized. Health officials are looking at a number of other suspected cases. 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.

He warned that parents who decide not to vaccinate their children are underestimating the dangers of the measles, the AP reported.

Measles was eradicated in the US after a safe and cheap vaccine was developed in 1963, but in recent years, outbreaks from NY to California have sickened hundreds.

"The bottom line is, there's no surprise we're seeing this right now", Melnick said.

In a health alert from King County, it was said the man had recently traveled to Clark County.

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He says some of his parents don't vaccinate for religious reasons, because they're anxious about side effects and because they're not convinced vaccinations are effective.

"Anti-vaxxer" parents and activists in Washington and nearby OR have been calling on the states to not require the measles vaccines. The measles vaccine is 98 percent effective. 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.

Those who are concerned about their potential measles exposure but have no symptoms can call 8-1-1 and speak to a nurse.

But there has been a recent rise in unvaccinated children.

Both Washington and OR allow vaccine exemptions for personal and philosophical reasons. Measles can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and even simply by breathing. Patients remain contagious for four days after they develop the rash.

"There are people who are resistant to getting vaccinated", Koenig said.

Washington state officials are now beginning the arduous and costly task of tracking down everyone who might have been exposed to the infection and cautioning them to be on the alert for symptoms, including runny nose, red eyes, fever and rash.

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