As the number of confirmed measles cases in Southwest Washington and OR grew to 36 cases, health authorities said Monday that their biggest concern is low vaccination rates in schools and the possibility that the crisis could stretch out for months. Four more cases have been in kids 11 to 18.
The number of outbreaks continues to rise, reports say.
The measles virus spreads through coughing and sneezing and can live in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed for up to two hours.
Health officials say the outbreak is a textbook example of why it's critical to vaccinate against measles, which was eradicated in the US after the vaccine was introduced in 1963. There were almost 350 measles cases recorded a year ago in 26 states and the District of Columbia, the second greatest number since the disease was eliminated in 2000. Of the 34 cases, 24 are children between age 1 and 10. "The best protection against measles is vaccination". Texas is one of the worth offenders, but Washington state also has two metropolitan areas-Seattle and Spokane-that the study identified as hotspots of low vaccination coverage. It can cause serious complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis, and can be deadly.
The King County case was in a man in his 50s, who was hospitalized for the disease, which he may have acquired during a recent trip to Clark County, according to local officials.
The outbreak has sickened 35 people in OR and Washington since January 1. In the remaining cases, authorities had not yet verified their immunization status.
Children under the age of one can not be immunized.
Clark County has so far poured $100,000 into trying to contain the outbreak, with staff being reassigned from other duties to help manage the public health effort.
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Doctors say the full vaccine is 97 per cent effective and protects you for life.
But measles is still a big problem in other parts of the world. To this day, it still kills 100,000 children a year worldwide, most under the age of five.
And with increasing numbers, vaccinated people may be starting to wonder just how protected they are. 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. Travelers infected overseas can bring the virus into the country and spread it, causing periodic outbreaks.
As NPR reported, "In 2014, there were 667 cases in the U.S".
Is it possible to contract measles if you've been vaccinated?
"Anti-vaxxer" parents and activists in Washington and nearby OR have been calling on the states to not require the measles vaccines.
If children get their measles vaccine, they are 95 percent protected.
Pediatrician Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor College of Medicine's National School of Tropical Medicine, told NPR there is a very-aggressive anti-vaccine lobby throughout the Pacific Northwest that have effectively driven up the rates of vaccine non-compliance, leaving scores of children vulnerable to the infection. A claim that has been wholly refuted by the Centers for Disease Control.
Measles usually manifests as a combination of high fever, as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit, along with what is known as the three Cs: cough, coryza (another word for runny nose), and conjunctivitis or pink eye, Sammons explained.