Officials investigate suspected measles case in King County

Officials investigate suspected measles case in King County

Health officials in one county in Washington have declared a public health emergency because of an outbreak of measles that has infected 22 people so far.

"Measles is a highly contagious disease and if you don't have immunity, you can get it just by being in a room where a person with measles has been", said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County.

The Rockland County Department of Health said there also another five suspected cases of measles they are now monitoring. The majority of cases are in children under 18, and at least 20 cases are known to be people who are unimmunized. Clark county falls at the lower end, although some counties have vaccination rates of below 70 percent. "For measles, the number of vaccinated kindergartners fell from 96.4 percent to 84.5 percent over that same time period". Only 1.2 percent of the children had a medical dispensation, meaning that almost 7 percent were not immunized for personal or religious reasons. County officials on Friday declared a public health emergency over the outbreak. Authorities there said a man who had recently travelled to Clark County had been hospitalized for the virus.

Clark County Public Health said it is also investigating two suspected cases. Measles causes encephalitis and pneumonia and before mass vaccination began in the 1980s, measles killed almost 2.6 million people a year, according to the World Health Organization.

The number of unvaccinated us children under two years of age has quadrupled from 0.3 percent to 1.3 percent since 2001, the Center For Disease Control And Prevention reported in October.

While many people feel like measles are not a big deal, officials are concerned because serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise, Lindquist said. "Portland is a total train wreck when it comes to vaccine rates".

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2018 saw the second-highest number of measles cases since the start of the 21st century, according to a CDC report.

Measles was declared eliminated in the 2000, meaning any new cases of the virus on USA soil past that point had originated outside the country and the virus was not able to survive in the US on its own. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that patient who have not received immunization will also become infected.

Both counties have pockets where large numbers of children are not vaccinated.

Outbreaks in the United States have more become common where un-vaccinated people cluster, and parents sometimes forgo shots for religious or personal reasons, which has led to outbreaks in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, a Somali-American community in Minnesota, and in Amish country in Ohio.

Residents who have been asked by a health care provider to "watch for measles", or who are otherwise ill - including flu-like symptoms, are advised to stay home and not go out in public. Then if others breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface and touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected.

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