Measles Outbreak Threatens Thousands in Southwestern Washington

Measles Outbreak Threatens Thousands in Southwestern Washington January 19, 2019
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Clark County, Washington declared a state of public health emergency on Friday due to a growing measles outbreak that includes 19 confirmed cases. The outbreak started earlier this month and is spreading rapidly in a county with one of the worst vaccination rates for public school children in Washingon. Due to Clark County’s proximity to Oregon, the outbreak is threatening to spread to Portland.

Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring announced the public health emergency on Friday, January 18. As of Friday, there are 19 confirmed cases of measles throughout Clark County, Washington.

Thus far public health officials have not disclosed the starting source of the outbreak. However, the first reported case occurred on January 1, 2019.

Clark County’s vaccination rate for public students 77% and is well below the 93-95% needed to achieve herd immunity. The low rate makes the county a prime target for a massive outbreak.

On the Clark County Public Health Website, officials have created a page specifically to help manage the outbreak. According to the county’s findings, all but one of the infected individuals are a child under 18 years old. The majority of the cases are in children under ten years old.

Of the 19 cases confirmed by the county, sixteen of them include unvaccinated individuals. One person infected by the measles required hospitalization, and another admission occurred in a person suspected of having the measles.

As a result of the virus spreading, the county declared a public health emergency. The goal of the emergency is to ensure the county has the necessary resources to respond appropriately. Additionally, the county will be able to access resources outside of the immediate area.

Since the virus started spreading, the county says that thousands of people have been exposed. The county lists more than two dozen public locations where exposure may have occurred.

Most problematic on the list is Moda Center where the Portland Trailblazers play. On the night of the Trailblazers game, more than 19,000 people attended the game.  Other locations include Costco, Ikea, Portland International Airport, and seven schools.

Clark County also requires schools to allow the exclusion of unvaccinated children until containment of the outbreak occurs. Additionally, the county is asking parents to keep these children out of public areas. According to data from the Washington Department of Health, 291 children at these schools have exemptions for vaccines.

Because so many parents are claiming “personal” exemptions for vaccinating their children, the likelihood of more cases is high. Additionally, the Portland metro area is part of the outbreak. The most at risk of contracting the virus are unvaccinated people.

The current outbreak is 100% preventable. The Measles, Mumps, And Rubella vaccine given twice before age six, provides children 97% immunity to measles. Parents that refuse to vaccinate their children,  falsely believe that vaccines cause autism or contain toxins that are not safe for the body.

The WHO and CDC have both debunked the assertation that vaccines are not safe. Multiple studies have proven vaccines do not cause autism. Yet, many parents still believe the claims and refuse the MMR for their children.

Clark County is now dealing with the consequences of the propaganda pushed out by anti-vaccine doctors, nurses, and organizations.

Individuals that contract the virus can develop serious complications such hearing loss, swelling of the brain, pneumonia, and severe cases death. The CDC estimates for every 1000 children infected by the measles that two will die.

If you are in Clark County or have recently visited, view the full list of public exposure locations here. Clark County is asking anyone that might have the measles to call their medical provider before going to a clinic or hospital. By calling ahead, the location can adequately prepare to reduce the possibility of exposure.


*Katie Joy is a blogger and freelance writer. Her work is featured on Upworthy, Huffington Post, Yahoo Parents, Mamamia, Daily Beast, Cafe Stir, Newsweek, Jezebel, and The Daily Mail. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.

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  • WallofSleep

    “… Portland International Airport…”

  • Anti-vaxxers, assholes, charlatans; a tri-part Venn diagram that makes a perfect circle.

  • Jennny

    I’m reminded of when we hosted an african from a poor country. He was in the UK for a conference, a church had paid his expenses and he’d hardly left his home area previously. He caught a cold so I offered him Paracetemol – 20pence a packet here. He was so grateful, took 2 and gave me the packet back. I said to keep it and take more 4 hourly. Somehow I found out he’d kept the rest of the packet to take home for his small kids. I got 10 packets – for less than the price of a Starbucks coffee – for him to take home. He was delighted. I wondered how it would feel to live in a country where simple remedies – and vaccinations – were not available to protect and heal my children. He wouldn’t believe, I’m sure that parents in the west were deliberately putting their children and others at risk of death by refusing readily-available, free vaccinations.

  • Knitting Cat Lady

    My paternal grandma would have lynched any child of hers that turned anti vaxx.

    She lost a daughter to diphtheria in 1948.

    So as soon as a new vaccine came out she had all her kids vaccinated.

    And later would badger her kids to get the grandkids vaccinated.

    Last year I had to be hospitalized due to a gall bladder infection at the height of flu season. I was lucky. I only had to spend ONE night in the hallway…

    So, it’s not too late to get the flu shot!

  • Just caught a minute of the news last night, out of Syracuse. Big outbreak of measles (I think) and they actually said that antit-vaxxers children were being viewed as the likely source of it.