Measles Outbreak Worsens In Washington As Governor Declares Public Health Emergency

Governor Jay Ipsee as declared a state public health emergency after more than two dozen measles cases have been reported primarily affecting small children

As of Friday, Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in Washington state in response to more than two dozen confirmed cases of measles.

In Friday's statement, Inslee said, "Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children".

Those who may have been exposed should watch for early symptoms of high fever, malaise and red eyes, followed by a rash that starts on the head and moves down the body.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is warning British Columbians to take precautions if they are travelling to Washington state or OR because of a measles outbreak.

They announced Monday that others could have been infected at the popular Oregon Museum of Science & Industry in Portland and a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the bedroom community of Vancouver, Washington.

As of Sunday afternoon, those figures were 34 cases in Clark County (mostly children) and one case in King County (an adult who had visited the affected area).

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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Before the vaccine was introduced in 1963 measles was the single leading killer of children in the world.

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. If someone who is not immune to the virus breathes the air or touches an infected surface, they can become infected, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One case has now reportedly spread to Kings County, which includes Seattle, Washington.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles, health officials say. The public health director for Clark County told ABC News that this outbreak is likely to continue for that reason-contagious viruses can't be stopped immediately by a slow measure like vaccination.

Measles was declared eliminated - defined by absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months - from the United States in 2000.

If children get their measles vaccine, they are 95 percent protected.

And with increasing numbers, vaccinated people may be starting to wonder just how protected they are. Measles can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and even simply by breathing. Because some people like to claim personal exemptions to getting the vaccine.

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