Washington measles outbreak is causing concern among Idaho health officials

Washington measles outbreak is causing concern among Idaho health officials

Dozens of people have been infected in a measles outbreak that is now spreading throughout parts of the Pacific Northwest, prompting Washington Governor Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency in all counties on Friday.

Health officials say the outbreak is a textbook example of why it's critical to vaccinate against measles, which was eradicated in the US after the vaccine was introduced in 1963.

In Oregon and Washington, people may have been exposed to the disease at about four dozen locations, including Portland International Airport and a Portland Trail Blazers game, officials said.

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%. The outbreak is being closely monitored and one person has been taken to the hospital.

The outbreak near Portland has sickened 35 people in OR and Washington since January 1, with 11 more cases suspected. Of those cases, 24 confirmed cases involved children 10 years or younger, and nine more involved children between the ages of 11 and 18, ABC News reported. 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.

Eighteen states including Washington allow parents to decide not to vaccinate their children due to moral, personal, or other beliefs.

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In the USA last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles. "Clearly this is going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it wouldn't surprise me if we were in the seven figures by the time we're done here", he said.

In a health alert from King County, it was said the man had recently traveled to Clark County. Herd immunity happens when unvaccinated individuals are protected from infection because nearly everyone around them has been vaccinated and is immune to a disease.

Though the measles MMR vaccine has been highly effective since it was first widely distributed in the United States in 1968, there has been a rising trend of parents deciding against vaccinating their children.

The groups often spread misinformation claiming a link between vaccines and autism.

The incubation period for measles is seven to 21 days, which means that an unvaccinated person who has been exposed could be out in public for up to three weeks before getting sick.

Two doses of the measles vaccine protect against measles in 97% of cases, according to the CDC. The disease is contagious from approximately four days before the characteristic rash appears to four days after the rash appears. It can remain in the air for up to two hours in an isolated space. "However, the majority of people exposed to measles are not at-risk of developing the disease since most people have either been vaccinated or have had measles in the past, before vaccination became routine". The symptoms include fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, conjunctivitis, tiny white spots with bluish-white centers on a red background inside the inner linking of the cheek, and a skin rash.

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