A measles outbreak is spreading in a Washington district known for not vaccinating its children, and health officials have declared a public health emergency.
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Measles outbreaks in New York and Washington have fueled public health officials to fight a disease that was eliminated almost two decades ago in the US.

Washington has issued a public emergency following an outbreak in Clark County, which has infected at least 53 people, mostly children. Another four cases were confirmed in neighboring Multnomah County, Oregon. Another case was identified in King County, which also includes Seattle.

Clark County public health officials have long feared that measles outbreaks could spread rapidly as the county's unvaccinated county's population is high. According to the Washington Department of Health, school-year 2017-18 not all vaccinations are done. At three schools in the county, more than 40 percent of kindergarten children did not receive all the recommended shots before starting school.

"If you have a large number of nonimmunized people and introduce measles into that population, it's as if a burning match would add a can of gasoline," said Alan Melnick, Clark County's Healthcare Director. "It will spread pretty quickly."


A measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest has so far affected 38 people and forced some people to change their lives. A mother says she does not bring her eleven-month-old son to the public until he receives his measles vaccine at the age of one. (January 30th)

In all but three states vaccines can be skipped for non-medical reasons.

In general, the Department of Health wants to immunize up to 95 percent of the population against measles to create herd immunity. This widespread vaccine protects against the highly contagious virus that can spread in the air. It also protects people who can not be vaccinated because of other diseases.

According to the law, parents of school-age children must have proof of vaccination before starting school.

All but three states – California, Mississippi and West Virginia – Allow parents to decline vaccinations for non-medical reasons such as religious or personal beliefs, according to the legislature of the National Conference of State.

The risk exists if a large number of children are living in a single environment, such as As a school or a church, not vaccinated.

"You need a high enough vaccination rate to prevent the spread of measles," Melnick said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 79 cases of measles in the United States. Beyond Washington and Oregon, cases have been reported in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.

"People do not know how sick it can make you"

The New York The outbreak is the largest in decades, said Jill Montag, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Health.

Since October, more than 200 cases have been reported in the districts of Rockland and Orange and four Brooklyn neighborhoods. The vast majority of these cases were identified last year, but some new cases are still invading. Since January 1, there have been two dozen in the counties of Rockland and Orange. Two Brooklyn neighborhoods reported three cases last week.

The Brooklyn Falls focuses on the Orthodox Jewish community. The outbreak there began when a child who was not vaccinated, was infected during a visit to Israel. Israel itself is experiencing a major outbreak, according to the Department of Health of New York City.

New York's health authorities have ruled out thousands of unvaccinated children from 29 schools and daycare centers where other children may have contracted the virus. They also started vaccination campaigns.

"We will continue our aggressive, multi-faceted response until it is clear that the outbreak has been contained," said Montag.

In the circles of Clark and Multnomah, there were mainly parents looking for vaccines for their children.

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Training Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said the parents' refusal to vaccinate had enabled the return of the highly contagious disease.

In 2015, a measles-infected overseas migrant visited Disneyland, causing an outbreak spread to several states and infected 147 individuals. In 2017, an outbreak of the Somali-American community in Minnesota infected 75 people, according to CDC.

"People are not afraid of measles," Offit said. "Not only are we largely eliminating these diseases, we have eliminated the memory of these diseases, people do not know how sick it can make you."

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