Washington State Issues State of Emergency Over Measles Outbreak

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On Friday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency after 35 confirmed cases of measles and 11 suspected cases in his state.

Thirty-one patients had not been vaccinated against measles.

There are 11 more cases that are yet to be confirmed.

Officials say it appears nearly all involve unvaccinated children under the age of 10. One adult is infected, and the rest are teenagers.

Thus far in Washington, no cases have been in children under the age of 1, which Swanson believes is at least partly because local officials have been dogged in their efforts to track exactly where infected individuals have been (schools, daycares, health centers, grocery stores, etc.) so parents with babies can stay away. Authorities in neighboring OR and Idaho have issued warnings. Gov. Jay Inslee already has declared a state of emergency today in all counties in the state, after Clark County declared a local public health emergency beginning January 18.

Early on, measles can look like many other viral illnesses, but the red blotchy rash that comes with it may help set it apart.

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As NPR reported, "In 2014, there were 667 cases in the U.S". The health officials are not only fighting the outbreak but also a spread of misinformation. The first known patient sought medical care on December 31, but it isn't known if other people may have gotten sick before that and did not seek treatment.

People who choose not to vaccinate their children are underestimating the dangers of the illness, said Melnick, who himself had measles as a child, before the vaccine was commonplace. Between one and three cases out of every 1,000 are fatal, he said.

The virus has mostly infected kids under 10, according to the Associated Press.

The CDC also noted that the virus can be prevented with the MMR vaccine. Most people who are diagnosed as having measles are not vaccinated or did not know their vaccination status.

"It's all hands on deck".

"Unfortunately I have to say that a majority of these cases are from people who chose not to vaccinate and we are seeing the effects of that", said Dr. Fernando Fan, Chief Pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente. "We wouldn't be dealing with this if we had vaccination rates up". The Oregon case is linked to the outbreak in Clark County, health officials said.

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Protection against measles can be substantially increased through vaccination.

Meanwhile, the state legislature has introduced a bill that would ban personal exemptions for the measles vaccine.

Children receive the first vaccine between 12 and 15 months old and the second vaccine between ages 4 and 6.

"However, if you're not protected, if your child doesn't have the measles shot, now's the time to go visit your doctor to ask if it's time for them to get that shot". One dose is about 93 percent effective.

"There's no reason why non-medical exemptions should exist", said Maldonado, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Those who are unvaccinated, travel internationally to developing countries or have a vitamin A deficiency are more likely to catch the disease. The measles virus is so contagious that it can live on surfaces and in the air for up to two hours.

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In addition to the United States, there has also been an uptick of people contracting measles in Canada and across Europe due to people foregoing the vaccine.

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