Information for B.C. residents about measles outbreak in Washington state

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Cases have now been confirmed in OR as well.

"Once it sets into a community, the likelihood of it getting beyond that community or more widespread within that community is high, especially when vaccination rates are low", Mou told CBS News.

Health officials say a suspected measles case in King County has been confirmed.

The BC Centre for Disease Control, a part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides public health leadership through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. Patients remain contagious for four days after they develop the rash.

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"If the measles virus is introduced from overseas into populations that have not had the vaccination, it will spread very widely since measles is probably the most contagious virus we know", says Schaffner.

"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.

She adds that while there is now no travel advisory for Washington State, anyone heading to the area should review their immunization status to make sure they're protected. Doctors say it's a red alert for anyone in King County who has not been vaccinated against measles.

Measles is airborne, which means it spreads when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

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Before the vaccine, 400 to 500 people died from the measles each year, 50,000 people were hospitalized and 4,000 people developed brain swelling that can cause deafness, he said.

In BC, children receive two doses of measles-containing vaccine during routine immunization, with the first at 12 months of age and the second at four years of age or school entry.

The disease was declared eliminated in the USA in 2000 but has since made a comeback that is tied to imported cases and the rise of the anti-vaccine movement. One dose is about 93 percent effective. "Individuals at older ages, if they know they've never been vaccinated and never had measles, then obviously they are at risk".

The Health District sent out a list of locations the patient had visited between January 12 and January 19, and where the patient may have possibly exposed others to the virus.

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