Washington under state of emergency as measles cases rise

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Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency affecting all of Washington on Friday due to an ongoing measles outbreak in two counties.

But the measles can also cause coughing, a runny nose, inflamed eyes, a sore throat and fever.

The local public health emergency in the affected counties began on January 18, according to the statement, which also reminds Washington residents that "the measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease when given prior to exposure".

It also means they can reach out to other states they need to.

Washington state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist told NPR's Patti Neighmond this is likely only the beginning of the epidemic since numerous families with infected children traveled to very public places, including Costco, Ikea, the Portland International Airport and the arena where the Trail Blazers play.

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Washington Department of Health officials announced that as of Monday afternoon there have been 36 confirmed cases and 11 suspected cases of the disease.

So far, King County has reported the only adult case, a man in his 50s who was hospitalized but has since recovered.

Experts say the outbreak highlights the importance of childhood immunizations.

There were 34 cases of the measles in Clark County, which sits on the state's southern border, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon.

Early on, measles can look like many other viral illnesses, but the red blotchy rash that comes with it may help set it apart. Public health officials from Washington had to warn their counterparts in Hawaii about the incoming family.

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In 2000, measles was considered eradicated in the United States, thanks to vaccination.

Because measles is among the most highly contagious of all infectious diseases, it flares up in areas with low vaccination rates, Peter J. Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told the the Washington Post.

It could be weeks or even months before the "exquisitely contagious" virus runs its course in Washington, Dr. Alan Melnick, the Clark County health officer, said Friday.

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

The CDC recommends people get the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to protect against those viruses. "Some outright lies, that when put all together, reveal a very terrifying picture of vaccination", Marcus said. Those people stayed home and later got ill, Armstrong said.

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