Medicine

Kids traveling from Washington develop measles in Hawaii

Kids traveling from Washington develop measles in Hawaii

The number of confirmed measles cases near Portland grew to 31 on Friday - an outbreak boosted by lower-than-normal vaccination rates in what has been called an anti-vaccination U.S.

As of Sunday, there are 35 confirmed cases of measles in the state of Washington - an outbreak that has already prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency.

A measles vaccine at Miami Children's Hospital on January 28, 2015. There are also nine suspected cases in Clark County.

Most of the cases have been in children younger than 10, according to a statement from the Clark County Public Health Department in Washington. So far, just one adult in the area has caught the disease. OR officials didn't provide the age of the adult infected there.

According to the Clark County Department of Public Health's investigation, at least 30 of its recorded cases were in people who were not immunized against the virus. Authorities in neighboring OR and Idaho have issued warnings.

The specific source of the outbreak is not now known, but the Oregonian reported that low immunization rates in the area meant that it was only a matter of time before a preventable outbreak like this one took hold in the Pacific Northwest. A second immunization is the MMRV vaccine, which protects children from measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox.

But measles is still a big problem in other parts of the world. Travelers infected overseas can bring the virus into the country and spread it, causing periodic outbreaks.

Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles in the U.S. The first known patient sought medical care on December 31, but it isn't known if other people may have gotten sick before that and did not seek treatment.

All but eradicated from the United States thanks to comprehensive vaccination programs, measles is still endemic in other parts of the world, and once in a while it hitches a ride to our country via worldwide travel. And Seattle, Spokane and Portland are among 15 USA cities considered "hot spots" for their high rates of non-medical exemptions to vaccines that cover measles, mumps and rubella. Because some people like to claim personal exemptions to getting the vaccine.

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"It's one of the most contagious viruses we have".

"It's all hands on deck".

"The bottom line is, there's no surprise we're seeing this right now", Melnick said.

Clark County, the heart of the measles outbreak, has a vaccination rate of only 84.5 percent for kindergarteners when it comes to the measles. Herd immunity happens when unvaccinated individuals are protected from infection because nearly everyone around them has been vaccinated and is immune to a disease.

Data on Portland's vaccination rate for both shots wasn't immediately available. Together, the two doses are about 97 percent effective at preventing the disease, the CDC says.

Health officials say the outbreak is a textbook example of why it's critical to vaccinate against measles, which was eradicated in the USA after the vaccine was introduced in 1963.

"This is something I've predicted for a while now", he says of the situation in Clark County.

Deese said there are large pockets of unvaccinated people in the New River Valley, which means a disease outbreak could happen in southwest Virginia.

People are contagious with measles for up to four days before and up to four days after the rash appears. The virus can live for up to two hours wherever an infected person has coughed or sneezed. Those people stayed home and later got ill, Armstrong said. Symptoms such as high fever, rash all over the body, stuffy nose and red eyes typically disappear without treatment within two or three weeks.