Measles Outbreak in Anti-Vaccine Hotspot in Washington State Confirmed by Health Officials
Mostly children have been infected during the the outbreak, which experts say is due to the area's high rate of nonmedical exemption for vaccines
There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Health officials in Clark County, Wash., have declared a public health emergency over a measles outbreak.
There are now 23 confirmed cases and two suspected cases of the highly contagious virus in the town near Portland, Ore., according to Clark County Public Health. The majority of cases are in children under 18, and at least 20 cases are known to be people who are unimmunized.
Measles is a contagious disease caused by a virus that presents as fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by full body rash of tiny red spots, according to the CDC. It is highly contagious and spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
In the Clark County outbreak, people who have contracted the virus have visited community hubs like schools, churches, and doctor’s offices, along with a Costco, an Ikea, a Dollar Store and other locations, according to Clark County Public Health. On Jan. 7 someone with measles was at Portland International airport, while another infected person went to the Portland Trail Blazers game on Jan. 11.
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Because measles is among the most highly contagious of all infectious diseases, it flares up in areas with low vaccination rates, Peter J. Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told the the Washington Post. The outlet reported that 7.9 percent of children in Clark County were exempt in the 2017-2018 school year from vaccines required for kindergarten entry, making it a hotspot for outbreaks.
Measles, which was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 thanks to vaccination, is now seeing a resurgence due to people choosing not to vaccinate. Cases are up 30 percent worldwide, according to the World Health Oganization, which just last week named vaccine hesitancy — the “reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability” — as one of the top threats to global health in 2019.