Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Washington declares public health emergency after measles outbreak of mostly unvaccinated children

Celia Hoffman | 30 January, 2019, 05:54

The outbreak, which started at the end of December and prompted Washington's governor to declare a public health emergency earlier this month, has drawn further attention to the unsafe consequences of vaccination exemptions. 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.

"Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal in small children", Inslee said in a statement Friday.

The local public health emergency in the affected counties began on January 18, according to the statement, which also reminds Washington residents that "the measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease when given prior to exposure".

In light of the outbreak in Washington, the BCDC is advising British Columbians to review and update their immunization status at any time, and especially prior to any travel. The proportion of children receiving no vaccine doses by 2 years old rose from 0.9% among those born in 2011 to 1.3% among those born in 2015, the CDC reported in October.

As of Sunday afternoon, there were 34 confirmed cases of measles in Clark County, just north of Portland, Oregon, and one in King County, which includes Seattle.

Twenty-five of the Clark County cases are between the ages of 1 and 10; 10 are between 11 and 18; and one case is between 19 and 29. The CDC says one of the reasons for the increase in cases is the spread of the disease in communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.

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Officials say it appears nearly all involve unvaccinated children under the age of 10. Measles symptoms tend to manifest seven to 21 days after exposure.

The specific source of the outbreak is not now known, but the Oregonian reported that low immunization rates in the area meant that it was only a matter of time before a preventable outbreak like this one took hold in the Pacific Northwest.

For more information about measles, see: bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/measles on the BCCDC website. Most of the patients are children who have not been vaccinated. The outbreak is being closely monitored and one person has been taken to the hospital. There are also nine suspected cases in Clark County.

"There are people who are resistant to getting vaccinated", Koenig said.

You should immunize your children. More than 90 percent of kids in this country are vaccinated, according to public health recommendations.

Clark County has so far poured $100,000 into trying to contain the outbreak, with staff being reassigned from other duties to help manage the public health effort. "Because the panic and frustration parents can feel is if their children are in a more vulnerable position because of decisions made by other people".

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