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Measles Outbreak Causes Official State of Emergency in Washington

Photograph by South_agency/iStock.com

As of Friday, Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in Washington state in response to more than two dozen confirmed cases of measles.

“Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children,” Inslee said in the declaration. “The existence of 26 confirmed cases in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties.”

As of Sunday, the number has significantly risen.

In Clark County alone, which is just north of Portland, Oregon, there were 34 confirmed cases of measles and nine suspected cases. Of those cases, 30 people were not immunized and four of them were not verified. Luckily, there has only been one hospitalization thus far.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that is airborne, meaning it spreads via sneezing and coughing. Virus symptoms begin with a fever, followed by cough, runny nose and reddish eyes — which is common of most viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, those symptoms are then followed by a rash that starts from the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

The CDC also noted that the virus can be prevented with the MMR vaccine.

In the Clark County cases, many of the infected folks visited hubs in the community where there are larger crowds. They've been in schools, churches and doctor’s offices. Not to mention they also were at a Costco, an Ikea, a Dollar Store and more, according to Clark County Public Health. One person also traveled using the Portland International airport of January 7, and another went to a Portland Trail Blazers game on January 11.

In 2000, measles was considered eradicated in the United States, thanks to vaccination. "Eradicated" is defined by the CDC as "absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months." Thanks to "vaccination hesitancy," however, unvaccinated communities are getting hit hard. And according to the World Health Organization, the anti-vaccination movement is proving to be one of the biggest global health threats in 2019.

This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site, CafeMom.

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