Measles cases confirmed in Monroe County

Pearl Mccarthy
February 1, 2019

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

A state of emergency was declared in Washington's Clark County and at least one case has also been confirmed in OR, and it's not out of the question that the outbreak could travel north toward the Lower Mainland.

However, "People who believe they have symptoms of measles should not go directly to medical offices, urgent care centers or emergency departments (unless experiencing a medical emergency) without calling in advance", it warned.

In 2018, six cases of measles were reported among BC residents: two cases acquired infection during travel out of Canada (India and Philippines, respectively), and four acquired infection from imported cases. Thirty of the confirmed cases are in Clark County and one confirmed case is in King County.

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

With measles apparently making a comeback in the U.S., Seattle Children's Hospital pediatrician Douglas J. Opel said that preventive steps need to be made urgently. Herd immunity happens when unvaccinated individuals are protected from infection because nearly everyone around them has been vaccinated and is immune to a disease.

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Twenty-one of the 30 people infected in Clark County are under 10 years old, with eight between the ages of 11 and 18 and a lone case of someone between 19 and 29, according to the county's Public Health Department.

Because of widespread use of the vaccine, measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000.

"Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children", Inslee stated in his proclamation. The other four were infected from imported cases. Health officials say nine more cases are suspected.

Those who are infected have visited public places while contagious, including the Portland International Airport, health care facilities and schools.

The Oregon Health Authority said Friday the agency is working with Multnomah and other agencies to notify people of their potential exposure and help them take steps to prevent exposing others if they become ill. Serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise from the disease in some cases.

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