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

The pool of unvaccinated children is fueling measles outbreak

The pool of unvaccinated children is fueling measles outbreak

The number of cases has continued to rise, with 34 confirmed and nine suspected cases of the disease. That is a significant increase from Friday's reported numbers when Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency.

The CDC also says the rise in measles cases is tied to an increase in the number of travelers who get measles overseas and bring it into the U.S.

Public health officials in southwest Washington, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, said people may have been exposed to the risky disease at more than three dozen locations, including Portland International Airport, a Portland Trail Blazers game, an Amazon Locker location and stores such as Costco and Ikea.

Most of the cases involved children younger than 10, the Clark County Public Health Department said in a statement. This means it is possible that if a person has not been immunized, they could still be spreading the infection without knowing they are.

Measles virus travels through the air.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that is airborne, meaning it spreads via sneezing and coughing. "Almost everyone who is not immune will get measles if they are exposed to the virus".

Most of the cases have been in kids.

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"We know that 31 of the cases so far are in un-immunized people, and these are people who are in the age-range that immunization is recommended". In the remaining cases, authorities had not yet verified their immunization status.

The majority of those infected were children, with 25 of the 35 confirmed cases impacting children under 10 years old. One person has been hospitalized in the outbreak. There has also been one confirmed case in King County, which includes Seattle.

"This is something I've predicted for a while now", he says of the situation in Clark County. The disease is so contagious that 90 per cent of unvaccinated people who are exposed will catch it.

Two doses of the vaccine in childhood are 97 percent effective and provide lifetime immunity.

Prior to 1963, when the measles vaccine became available, measles was the leading cause of death among children worldwide, report Romo and Neighmond. However, state laws allowing parents to opt out of mandatory vaccinations quickly began eroding those statistics, leading to outbreaks across the nation. The CDC attributed the jump to primarily unvaccinated people in the Orthodox Jewish communities in New York state, New York City and New Jersey. The first, called MMR vaccine, helps protect children and adults from measles, mumps and rubella.

"Measles was eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, but it's been allowed to return", Peter Hotez, an infectious diseases researcher at Baylor College of Medicine, tells Vox. A claim that has been wholly refuted by the Centers for Disease Control.

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