Pullman School District monitoring state’s measles outbreak

Brittany Mendoza
February 3, 2019

Before mass vaccination, 400 to 500 people in the United States died of the measles every year, 50,000 people were hospitalized and 4,000 people developed brain swelling that can cause deafness, Melnick said.

Clark County Public Health has confirmed 42 measles cases since January 1 in its outbreak investigation.

There are 40 confirmed cases in the Northwest, including 38 clustered in southwest Washington, one in Portland and one in Seattle. Outside of the family noted above, there are no reports of secondary cases of measles. 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.

Clark County, where the first case was documented, has a 78 percent vaccination rate - far below the 95 percent required for "herd immunity" for such a contagious virus. At least 43 people in Washington and OR have fallen ill in recent weeks with the extraordinarily contagious virus.

'So it's like taking a lighted match and throwing it into a bucket of gasoline, basically, ' he said.

The governor of Washington last week declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak, which authorities have said could last for months.

The virus, spread by coughing or sneezing, can remain in the air for up to two hours in an isolated space.

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No new exposure sites were disclosed with the newly confirmed Clark County case. Five cases' immunization statuses are unverified and one case was vaccinated - though with only one of the recommended two doses.

According to the Washington Department of Health, vaccination rates in Pullman schools hover around 90 percent.

Stay home if you have the measles. For more information about the measles outbreak, check out this FAQ from Jackson County Public Health, or follow the or and Washington state investigation. Children usually do not have side effects from the shot.

Measles is still a big problem in other parts of the world, and travelers infected overseas can bring back the virus, causing periodic outbreaks.

Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases of measles in the US. At the time in the US, the disease annually infected between 3-4 million people and killed as many as 500.

Health officials are urging anyone who has been exposed at an identified location and believes they have symptoms of measles to call their health care provider prior to visiting the medical office to make a plan that avoids exposing others in the waiting room.

Those who may have been exposed should watch for early symptoms of high fever, malaise and red eyes, followed by a rash that starts on the head and moves down the body.

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