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By Associated Press
VANCOUVER, Washington. ̵
Public health officials in southwest Washington, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, said people over the age of three may have been exposed to the dangerous disease at a dozen locations, including Portland International Airport, a game of Portland Trail Blazers, an Amazon Locker location and shops like Costco and Ikea.
Twenty-six of the confirmed patients were not vaccinated against measles and the vaccination status of four others who were infected is unknown. One child was hospitalized. According to the authorities, nine more cases are suspected.
One case was also confirmed in King County (Seattle) and one on Friday in Multnomah County (Portland).
Most of the cases concerned children under 10 years old, said the Department of Public Health in Clark County in a statement. One adult is infected and the rest is a teenager. Oregon officials did not report the age of the adult who was infected there.
The Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, declared a state health emergency for his state on Friday. Authorities in neighboring Oregon and Idaho have issued warnings.
Inslee said the number of cases "creates an extreme public health risk that can spread rapidly to other counties."
Measles vaccine has been a routine childhood vaccine for decades, and measles was declared eliminated in the US in 2000.
But measles are still a big problem in other parts of the world. Travelers who are infected abroad can bring the virus into the country and spread, resulting in periodic outbreaks.
Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 measles cases in the US
. Officials are still not sure where the Pacific Northwest erupted. The first known patient sought medical help on December 31, but it is not known if other people have been ill before and have not taken any treatment. For the time being, public health officials are focusing on preventing further exposure.
It could take weeks or even months for the "exquisitely contagious" virus to take its course in Washington, Clark County Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick on Friday. 19659007] People who do not have their children vaccinated underestimate the risk of the disease, said Melnick, who himself had measles before vaccination.
400-500 people died of measles before vaccination Each year, 50,000 people were hospitalized and 4,000 people developed brain swelling that can lead to deafness. One to three out of 1,000 cases are fatal, he said.
"It's one of the most contagious viruses we have, it can have serious complications … and it's completely preventable with an incredibly cheap and safe vaccine," Melnick said.
Clark County already has more than $ 100,000 issued to curb the outbreak, and the staff is deducted from other duties, including restaurant inspections, he said.
"It's all hands on deck. This is clear. "It will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I would not be surprised if we were in the seven-digit number when we're done here," he said. "These costs could have been avoided if we had all vaccinated."
Clark County, which also owns the bedroom community Portland in Vancouver, Wash., Has a measles immunization rate of 78 percent, which is well below the 92-94 percent rate of so-called "herd immunity," said Marissa Armstrong, the spokeswoman for the department , Herd immunity occurs when unvaccinated individuals are protected from infection because almost everyone around them has been vaccinated and immune to a disease.
The measles vaccination coverage for 2-year-olds in Multnomah County, home to Portland, was 87 percent in 2017, according to the state. The measles vaccine consists of two shots, one after age 2 and the second generally between the ages of 4 and 6.
Portland's vaccination data were not immediately available for both shots.
Two childhood vaccine doses are 97 percent effective and provide lifelong immunity. One dose is approximately 93 percent effective.
Both Washington and Oregon allow exceptions to vaccines for personal and philosophical reasons. The vaccine exemption rate in Clark County was 7.5 percent high for non-medical reasons.
The incubation period for measles is seven to 21 days, which means that an unvaccinated person who has been exposed could be exposed to the public for up to three weeks before they become ill. Patients remain infectious for four days after developing the rash.
The virus, which is coughing or sneezing, can remain in the air for up to two hours in an isolated room. 90% of people who are exposed to measles that have not been vaccinated will get it, public health services said.
Every time an unvaccinated person exposed to measles looks in public, she starts the clock again, "Armstrong said.
Earlier this week, the authorities managed to identify several individuals who were exposed These people stayed home and later got sick, Armstrong said.
Those who may have been exposed should be alert for early symptoms of fever and discomfort, and then have a rash on the head that starts In some cases, serious complications such as pneumonia and brain infections may be the result of the disease.