VANCOUVER, Washington, USA UU – The number of confirmed cases of measles near Portland increased to 31 on Friday, an outbreak driven by lower than normal vaccination rates in what has been called a "hot spot" in the United States. against vaccination.
Public health officials in southwestern Washington, across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, said people may have been exposed to the dangerous disease in more than three dozen places, including Portland International Airport, a game of the Portland Trail Blazers, an Amazon Locker location and stores like Costco and Ikea.
Twenty-six of the confirmed patients had not been vaccinated against measles, and the vaccination status of four other infected persons is unknown. A child has been hospitalized. The authorities say that nine additional cases are suspect.
A case was also confirmed in King County, which is the home of Seattle, and another was confirmed on Friday night in Multnomah County, which is the home of Portland.
The majority of cases involved children under the age of 10, the Clark County Department of Public Health said in a statement. An adult is infected, and the rest are teenagers. Oregon officials did not provide the age of the infected adult there.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, declared a statewide public health emergency on Friday. Neighboring authorities Oregon and Idaho have issued warnings.
Inslee said the number of cases "creates an extreme risk to public health that could spread rapidly to other counties."
The measles vaccine has been part of routine injections in childhood for decades and measles was declared eliminated in the US. UU In 2000.
But measles is still a big problem in other parts of the world. Travelers infected abroad can bring the virus to the country and spread it, causing periodic outbreaks.
Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and approximately 350 cases of measles in the United States. UU
Officials are still not sure where this outbreak began in the Pacific Northwest. The first known patient sought medical attention on December 31, but it is not known if other people got sick before and did not seek treatment. Public health officials are now focused on preventing more exposures.
It could be weeks or even months before the "exquisitely contagious" virus runs its course in Washington, Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County's health officer, said Friday.
People who decide not to vaccinate their children are underestimating the dangers of the disease, said Melnick, who also had measles as a child, before the vaccine was commonplace.
Before the vaccine, 400 to 500 people died of measles each year, 50,000 people were hospitalized and 4,000 people developed brain inflammation that can cause deafness, he said. Between one and three cases out of every 1,000 are fatal, he said.
"It's one of the most contagious viruses we have, it can have very serious complications (…) and it can be completely prevented with an incredibly cheap and safe vaccine," Melnick said.
Clark County has already spent more than $ 100,000 trying to contain the outbreak, and staff is being removed from other duties, including restaurant inspections, he said.
"Everything is in the hand … Clearly, this will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I would not be surprised if we were in the seven figures by the time we finish here," he said. "These costs could have been avoided if we had vaccinated everyone."
Clark County, which includes the Portland dormitory community in Vancouver, Washington, has a measles vaccination rate of 78 percent, well below the 92 to 94 percent rate required for the so-called "immunity of flock, "said Marissa Armstrong, department spokeswoman. Collective immunity occurs when unvaccinated people are protected from infection because almost everyone around them has been vaccinated and is immune to disease.
The measles vaccination rate for 2-year-old children in Multnomah County, home of Portland, was 87 percent in 2017, according to state data. The measles vaccine consists of two injections, one administered at 2 years and the second usually between 4 and 6 years.
Data on the Portland vaccination rate for both injections were not immediately available.
Two doses of the vaccine in childhood are effective at 97 percent and provide lifelong immunity. One dose is approximately 93 percent effective.
Both Washington and Oregon allow vaccine exemptions for personal and philosophical reasons. The exemption rate for vaccines in Clark County for non-medical reasons was high, at 7.5 percent, Armstrong said.
The incubation period for measles is seven to 21 days, which means that an unvaccinated person who has been exposed may be in public for up to three weeks before becoming ill. Patients remain contagious for four days after developing the rash.
The virus, spread by coughing or sneezing, can remain in the air for up to two hours in an isolated space. Ninety percent of people exposed to measles who have not been vaccinated will get it, public health officials said.
Every time an unvaccinated person who has been exposed to measles goes out, "the clock starts again," Armstrong said.
Earlier this week, authorities were able to identify several people who had been exposed but were not yet sick. Those people stayed home and then got sick, Armstrong said.
Those who have been exposed should be alert to the early symptoms of fever and malaise and then to a rash that starts in the head and moves down the body. Serious complications such as pneumonia and brain infections may arise from the disease in some cases.
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