BC officials preach caution following measles outbreak in Washington State

Desiree Burns
January 29, 2019

Clark County Public Health Director, Dr Alan Melnick said, "I don't see this ending anytime soon".

Oregon health officials said the outbreak has spread to their state, as a Multnomah resident was diagnosed with measles, The Oregonian reported.

Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles in the U.S. Public health officials say the patient was admitted to the emergency room January 19, and tests confirmed Wednesday that the patient had the infection. For now, public health officials are focused on preventing additional exposure.

The person while contagious visited Legacy GoHealth in Gresham and Fred Meyer in Wood Village Sunday and on Wednesday visited Gresham Troutdale Family Medical Center in Troutdale and the Walgreens Pharmacy in Troutdale.

"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. Thirty of the confirmed cases are in Clark County and one confirmed case is in King County.

Measles is highly infectious and spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing, as well as respiratory secretions.

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"The measles is now only being reintroduced because children are not being 100 percent vaccinated", says Dr. Schaffner.

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

The measles vaccine is available at local clinics and pharmacies as a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

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.

There is also one case in King County, which includes Seattle. Symptoms such as high fever, rash all over the body, stuffy nose and red eyes typically disappear without treatment within two or three weeks. It is so contagious that nine out of 10 people who are exposed to it and are not protected will definitely get it. Note that the virus remains in a room as long as two hours after an infected person has left and because the symptoms do not manifest until after a week or two, most people can't tell that they already have it. Serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise from the disease in some cases.

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