Washington state is in the middle of a quickly growing measles outbreak. Today Clark County reports 41 confirmed cases of the measles. Additionally, there are at least 15 suspected cases. Fears that measles could move beyond Washington are possible because one person traveled to Hawaii. With nearly all of the measles patients being unvaccinated children, their anti-vax parents are to blame for the outbreak.
Since the outbreak first started on January 1, 2019, doctors have confirmed 41 cases. Nearly all of the infected people were not vaccinated. Clark County reports that 37 of the 41 cases are in unvaccinated children. All but one of those infected by the measles are children under 18 years old.
Last week the county identified seven schools that reported exposure. However, the list of impacted schools or daycares has grown to fifteen. Clark County continues to ask any0ne not immunized for measles to not attend the schools during the outbreak.
Not only are the schools feeling the impact, but the county added a handful of new locations were infected people visited. Included in the updated list are a trampoline park, a shopping mall, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and a WIC office.
Most troubling is the news that at least three infected people traveled out of state. Two infected people flew to Hawaii, and another went to Bend, Oregon.
As the county tallies up more cases, the state of Washington declared the State of Emergency. The declaration will enable the state to provide additional resources to help manage the outbreak. Governor Jay Inslee announced the emergency late last week.
“The measles virus is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children, and the existence of 26 confirmed cases in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties.”
In a jab to anti-vaccine parents that created the outbreak, he said,
Oregon leaders are prepping for the measles to spread to Portland. The Oregon Health Authority has set up a page on their website to share exposure sites and information for individuals believed to have the measles.
“The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease when given prior to exposure, and proactive steps to provide the vaccination and other measures must be taken quickly to prevent further spread of the disease.”
The low vaccination rates in the Portland metro area made the outbreak an inevitable outcome. As more people become infected, lawmakers will need to decide if they should make new laws for vaccine exemptions. California passed a bill in 2015 that stopped parents from claiming “personal exemptions” for their children to enter school without vaccines.
The California law has helped the state vaccination rates improve by nearly 3%. In Clark County, only 76.5% of all entering kindergartners had received the MMR vaccination. To achieve herd immunity more than 90% of children must be vaccinated.
For now, 41 confirmed cases and 15 suspected cases brings the total up to 56 people. All but one are children. If more parents vaccinated their children, the outbreak never would have happened.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
Buy Katie Joy a cup of Coffee.
Individuals wishing to help Katie with her expenses can become patrons. Patrons gain exclusive access to stories, new projects, and future books.