Published: Wed, January 30, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Measles Outbreak Grows in Northwest US, 31 Cases Reported

Measles Outbreak Grows in Northwest US, 31 Cases Reported

Health officials are urging anyone who has been exposed at an identified location and believes they have symptoms of measles to call their health care provider prior to visiting the medical office to make a plan that avoids exposing others in the waiting room. It's spread through those common winter companions, sneezing and coughing. OR also has a high nonmedical exemption rate for vaccinations-one 2018 state analysis found a rate among kindergarteners of 7.5 percent, with the number for K-12 students climbing as high as 10 percent in some counties. The agency noted the outbreaks were associated with travelers who brought measles back from Israel.

"I've been saying now for the last couple of years [that] it's only a matter of time before we see a horrific measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest", said Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

"If you put a case of measles into a highly unvaccinated population, it can spread like wildfire", he said. 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.

A lot of kids who can't be vaccinated are now at risk.

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Babies typically aren't given their first dose of the measles vaccine until their first birthday (though there are exceptions for babies who travel out of the country), in part because mothers who've been immunized against the disease either through vaccination or because they once had the disease pass some of that immunity on to their little ones.

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The majority of the infections are in children younger than 10 years old.

But children who are immunocompromised - like those who are on steroids or who are undergoing chemotherapy, for example - are also unable to be vaccinated. "It's an uphill battle for us, as public health professionals, to try to get the right information out there". "They're not going to be protected". 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.

A sign prohibiting all children under 12 and unvaccinated adults stands at the entrance to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash.

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There's also a guide from the Washington State Department of Health with instructions on what to do if you've been exposed to measles and start to feel unwell. Not to mention they also were at a Costco, an Ikea, a Dollar Store and more, according to Clark County Public Health. "But an outbreak like this shows why this issue can get distorted".

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