Measles Spark State Of Emergency In Washington State

A measles outbreak is currently spreading throughout parts of the Pacific Northwest. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has now declared a state of emergency in all counties of the state due to the outbreak. Inslee’s proclamation calls for agencies and departments to use state resources to “do everything reasonably possible to assist affected areas.” The state of emergency was detailed in a news release on the governor’s website.

According to the news release, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has implemented its infectious disease Incident Management Structure to manage the public health aspects of the outbreak. The Washington Military Department has deployed members to organize resources and assist the DOH and local officials in dealing with the issue. The specific source of the outbreak is not currently known.

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms such as high fever, cough, watery eyes, and a runny nose typically surface a week after an individual becomes infected. Roughly three to five days later, a blotchy red rash will typically spread all over the body. The symptoms generally disappear without treatment within two or three weeks.

Nearly everyone who is not immune will get measles if they are exposed to the virus. The CDC says one or two of every 1,000 children who get measles will die from complications. Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, but a recent rise in unvaccinated children (0.9 percent in 2011 to 1.3 percent in 2015) has allowed the disease to make a comeback. Both of the states where the outbreak has been observed allow vaccine exemptions for personal reasons.

There are now 32 confirmed cases of measles in Washington. There are 31 cases confirmed in Clark County and one confirmed case in King County. Of the 32 cases, 21 are children between the ages of 1 and 10 years old. According to Clark County Public Health, 27 of those infected in the county had not gotten a measles vaccine.