Careful travelling to Washington counties hit by measles outbreak: provincial health authority

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District office building

Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency over the measles outbreak and OR officials have reported an infection has spread there. The number of confirmed measles cases near Portland grew to 31 on Friday - an outbreak boosted by lower-than-normal vaccination rates in what has been called an anti-vaccination U.S. The World Health Organization says that unvaccinated young children face the highest risk of measles and its complications, including death.

"If the measles virus is introduced from overseas into populations that have not had the vaccination, it will spread very widely since measles is probably the most contagious virus we know", says Schaffner.

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 due to its vaccination program, but new outbreaks have been caused by travelers who brought the virus back from other countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before the measles vaccination program began in the 1963, about 3 to 4 million people in the US got measles every year.

"Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children", Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement. The measles vaccine is very effective.

As a precaution, the BCCDC is advising residents, and border crossers especially, to review and, if necessary, update their vaccines, the best protection against measles. Thirty of the confirmed cases are in Clark County and one confirmed case is in King County.

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

The centre adds that while it is expected that most travellers will be immune to measles, some individuals will be susceptible, including infants less than one-year-old or people who have never been immunized against measles.

Southwest District Health says health care providers should consider measles if they see patients with symptoms like fever and malaise followed by a rash that starts at the head and moves down the body.

People who choose not to vaccinate their children are underestimating the dangers of the illness, said Melnick, who himself had measles as a child, before the vaccine was commonplace.

"Some people say, 'Why would you get vaccinated for something that is no worse than a cold?'" says Leman. It's not like a cold for three days.

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