Once eradicated in USA, measles outbreak sickens 35 in two states

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As of early Monday, there were 36 confirmed cases of measles in Washington, stemming from an outbreak that is thought to have started in Clark County. "The existence of 26 confirmed cases in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties".

The outbreak, which started at the end of December and prompted Washington's governor to declare a public health emergency earlier this month, has drawn further attention to the unsafe consequences of vaccination exemptions.

Officials in OR and Idaho have issued warnings.

Measles is known to be highly contagious - in other words, very easy to contract if an unvaccinated, non-immune person is exposed. Of the 34 cases, 24 are children between age 1 and 10.

BC typically experiences a few cases of measles each year, usually among under-vaccinated travellers returning from parts of the world where measles is still common. The first known patient sought medical care on December 31, but it is unknown if other people may have gotten sick before that and did not seek treatment.

People who choose not to vaccinate their children are underestimating the dangers of the illness, said Melnick, who himself had measles as a child, before the vaccine was commonplace.

Measles was eradicated in the US after a safe and cheap vaccine was developed in 1963, but in recent years, outbreaks from NY to California have sickened hundreds. 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. The Seattle-King County Health Department has more detail about the local victim, including places where he could have exposed others.

HB-1638 would only apply to measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines in the "philosophical or personal objections" category.

"We already send the letters to the parents", said principal Andrey Dolbinin.

The vaccination rate in the area is 78 percent, lower than average, and that's making it harder to contain the outbreak.

While nearly all states allow exemptions from their vaccination legislation on religious grounds, Washington state is one of 18 states that also allow exemptions on the grounds of personal or moral beliefs.

Doctors say the full vaccine is 97 per cent effective and protects you for life.

The virus, spread by coughing or sneezing, can remain in the air for up to two hours in an isolated space.

The most recognizable symptom is a red, blotchy rash. Serious complications such pneumonia and brain infections can arise from the disease in some cases.

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