Measles Outbreak Grows in Northwest US, 31 Cases Reported

Pearl Mccarthy
January 28, 2019

The state of emergency directs Washington state agencies and departments to use their resources to assist affected areas in order to respond and recover.

The World Health Organization in November warned that measles cases worldwide had jumped more than 30 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year, in part because of children not being vaccinated.

Susceptible Clark County and OR locations include schools in Battle Ground and Vancouver, Portland International Airport and a number of churches.

But there has been a recent rise in unvaccinated children.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Friday after dozens came down with the highly infectious disease in Washington's southernmost county.

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The outbreak appears to have already spread to neighbouring OR, with one related case reported.

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.

Locations and venues include Portland International Airport, at the Moda Center during a Portland Trail Blazers basketball game, an Amazon Locker location and stores such as Costco and Ikea. Public health officials are focused for now on preventing more exposures. Naus says similar under-vaccinated areas exist in our province, with even possibly as much as five per cent of young children in B.C. who are not vaccinated.

Before the vaccine, 400 to 500 people died from the measles each year, 50,000 people were hospitalized and 4,000 people developed brain swelling that can cause deafness, he said. No cases related to the Clark County outbreak have been reported in the province, but B.C.'s vaccination rate now sits below the 95 per cent necessary to achieve herd immunity. The typical recommendations are that children should get two doses of MMR vaccine, the first between 12 to 15 months of age and the second between 4 and 6 years old.

Marissa Armstrong with Clark County Public Health said people who have measles symptoms should contact their health care provider ahead of going into a clinic. Those infected can spread measles to others four days before and four days after the rash appears.

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