Published: Fri, February 01, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

BC CDC warns of measles outbreak in Washington State

BC CDC warns of measles outbreak in Washington State

Clark County in Washington is just north of Portland, Oregon.

In Clark County, Washington, near Portland, health officials announced five new possible cases on Tuesday, bringing the total count there to 23 confirmed and 7 suspected of having the illness.

A single case has been reported in Oregon State, due to the outbreak. County officials on Friday declared a public health emergency over the outbreak.

The Clark County Center for Community Health in Vancouver, Wash., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019.

Measles symptoms include fever, rash, cough and red, watery eyes, according to Public Health - Seattle & King County.

Because of widespread use of the vaccine, measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000. For the most recent years of data available, 87.3 per cent of children turning two had received one dose of measles vaccine, and 88.4 per cent of children turning seven had received two doses, based on data in the provincial immunization registry reported by BC health authorities.

Health officials say that symptoms of measles generally appear in two stages. Herd immunity happens when unvaccinated individuals are protected from infection because nearly everyone around them has been vaccinated and is immune to a disease. According to the CDC, if a person has measles, 90 percent of unvaccinated people close to them will also become infected.

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"But it's never too late to get vaccinated", says Dr. Leman.

The Clark County Public Health said Thursday the people newly confirmed to have measles have stayed home, preventing additional exposures to the public.

Because the disease is so easily transmitted, Clark County health officials have warned the public to be on the alert if they have been to public places where the infected have visited.

Public health officials in Washington say people may have been exposed to the unsafe 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.

People who think they may have the measles are asked to contact their health care provider before visiting to avoid exposing others. The virus can lead to pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Although measles is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age.

"Some people say, 'Why would you get vaccinated for something that is no worse than a cold?'" says Leman.

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