Medicine

Health professionals urging vaccinations in light of measles outbreak

Health professionals urging vaccinations in light of measles outbreak

With the measles outbreak declared a state of emergency in Washington state, health experts are feverishly working to contain the viral illness.

But for those people who choose not to vaccinate their kids, one state lawmaker is trying to change that. One or two of every 1,000 children who get measles will die from complications, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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.

Measles was eradicated in the USA after a safe and cheap vaccine was developed in 1963, but in recent years, outbreaks from NY to California have sickened hundreds. It is paramount that no more people get infected and that the outbreak is contained.

Earlier today, Dr. Donald Baird - a family practitioner and the current public health officer for the county of Humboldt - spoke with KHUM's Lyndsey Battle about the low rates of vaccination among certain Humboldt County communities, and why that could provide fertile ground for the virus if it arrives here.

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Who cares if measles are the most contagious of any disease known to man. "These costs could have been prevented if we had everybody vaccinated".

Once upon a time, the United States had eliminated the measles, but outbreaks have increased as the anti-vaccine movement takes hold - and 18 states now allow for non-medical "philosophical" vaccination exemptions. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are 97 percent effective, while just one dose is about 93 percent effective, the CDC said.

"For decades, vaccines were given and compliance was very high, and there are a lot of people, especially in the US, who have no experience with these vaccine-preventable illnesses", Deese said. The vaccine-exemption rate in Clark County for non-medical reasons was high, at 7.5 percent, Armstrong said. Measles symptoms tend to manifest seven to 21 days after exposure. Patients remain contagious for four days after they develop the rash. The disease is so contagious that 90 per cent of unvaccinated people who are exposed will catch it.

Thousands have been exposed when those sick with measles have shown up in public places like where the Portland Trailblazers play.

Washington state officials are now beginning the arduous and costly task of tracking down everyone who might have been exposed to the infection and cautioning them to be on the alert for symptoms, including runny nose, red eyes, fever and rash.


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