Spokane health district urges vaccinations as Washington measles cases rise to 34

Pearl Mccarthy
January 30, 2019

The outlet reported that 7.9 percent of children in Clark County were exempt in the 2017-2018 school year from vaccines required for kindergarten entry, making it a hotspot for outbreaks.

Public health officials struggling to contain the highly contagious virus say the outbreak is a textbook example of why it's critical to vaccinate against childhood diseases.

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. Authorities in neighboring OR and Idaho have issued warnings.

At least one person has been hospitalized in Washington. There are nine additional suspected cases of measles, according to officials.

The first known patients in this outbreak sought medical care on December 31, but officials don't know if other people may have gotten sick before that and did not seek treatment, the AP reported.

Earlier today, Dr. Donald Baird - a family practitioner and the current public health officer for the county of Humboldt - spoke with KHUM's Lyndsey Battle about the low rates of vaccination among certain Humboldt County communities, and why that could provide fertile ground for the virus if it arrives here.

Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles in the U.S.

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Last January, police made a quick decision to enter McArthur's apartment and arrest him when they saw a young man enter his home. Police believe he was killed in August 2015 and found a coat with his DNA on it in McArthur's van during their investigation.

The counties' public health officials urge those who believe they or their child have contracted the disease to contact their medical office and plan a visit.

Clark County, which includes the Portland bedroom community of Vancouver, Washington, has a measles vaccination rate of 78 percent, well below the 92 to 94 percent rate required for so-called "herd immunity", said Marissa Armstrong, the department's spokeswoman. Neurological disorders and swelling, deafness and compromised immune systems are some of the problems people could face even years after recovering from the measles.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that is airborne, meaning it spreads via sneezing and coughing. "And then you see another generation of cases", he said.

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

In 2000, measles was considered eradicated in the United States, thanks to vaccination.

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. The measles vaccine consists of two shots, one given by age 2 and the second usually between ages 4 and 6. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are 97 percent effective, while just one dose is about 93 percent effective, the CDC 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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