The pool of unvaccinated children is fueling measles outbreak

In a statement declaring the state of emergency, Washington Governor Jay Inslee called the situation an "extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties".

Measles is highly contagious and can be very unsafe for infants, people with weakened immune systems, and those who have not been vaccinated. Most of the patients are children under 10, and one child has been hospitalized.

Public health officials struggling to contain the highly contagious virus say the outbreak is a textbook example of why it's critical to vaccinate against childhood diseases.

In Clark County, the area that's been worst affected in the current outbreak, 7.9 percent of children entering kindergarten were exempted from vaccination as of the 2017-2018 school year, The Washington Post reports The overall measles vaccination rate in the county, according to the AP, is just 78 percent-far short of the more than 92 percent recommended to provide immunity for the community. A person can spread the virus before they show symptoms. This particular outbreak has spread to 31 people who were not immunized and four people who were "unverified".

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The threat also spread in the past few days; Deschutes County officials say someone visiting Bend on January 19 and 20 may have brought measles with them.

If his bill passes, any parent who sends their children to public school will not be allowed to use a personal exemption to not vaccinate their kids.

"The bottom line is, there's no surprise we're seeing this right now", Melnick said. "Vaccination is the only effective preventive measure against measles".

Washington and OR are among the country's many states that allow parents with a personal OR philosophical objection to decline the measles vaccination, among some others. The measles vaccine consists of two shots, one given by age 2 and the second usually between ages 4 and 6. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of non-vaccinated individuals exposed to someone with the disease will also become infected. It explains, "If you get MMR vaccine within 72 hours of initially being exposed to measles, you may get some protection against the disease, or have milder illness".

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The virus, spread by coughing or sneezing, can remain in the air for up to two hours in an isolated space. The outbreak is being closely monitored and one person has been taken to the hospital.

People are contagious with measles for up to four days before and up to four days after the rash appears.

Earlier this week, authorities were successful in identifying several people who had been exposed but were not sick yet.

"There are people who are resistant to getting vaccinated", Koenig said. Those are the people who must love that beautiful red rash on the outside and small white spots in their mouths. It can cause serious complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis, and can be deadly.

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