Health officials say the outbreak is a textbook example of why it's critical to vaccinate against measles, which was eradicated in the US after the vaccine was introduced in 1963.
"Measles is a highly contagious and infectious disease that can be fatal in small children", Inslee stated in his proclamation that directs state agencies and departments to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected areas and requests additional medical resources from other states to help contain the outbreak. People are contagious long before they show symptoms and nearly everyone who is not immune through vaccinations will get measles if they are exposed to the virus. "The rate of measles in the USA recently jumped from an average of 60 cases a year to 205 cases annually", the Mayo Clinic says.
Local public health officials are monitoring the outbreak up north, and Jackson County Health Officer Dr. Jim Shames said that the public will be alerted if a confirmed case makes it to Jackson County.
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There has been one confirmed measles case in Multnomah County, Ore., and another in King County. Of the 41 confirmed cases, 37 are people who were not immunized and four are unverified. The first patient sought medical care on December 31, but other sick people may not have gone to a doctor or hospital, he said.
People who believe they have these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and avoid contact with other people to void the illness from spreading further.
Officials haven't yet determined how the measles outbreak started. The agency said that one dose of the vaccine is about 93 percent effective at prevention, two doses raise the efficacy to 97 percent. DOH urges everyone to check their immunization records to verify that they are fully immunized and get vaccinated if they are not already.
People are contagious with measles for up to four days before and up to four days after the rash appears. And the worst part of the measles outbreak would be that this virus is deadly for the majority of newborns and individuals with a weak immune system. The virus lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person, and can survive for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed.