Medicine

Measles outbreak could easily make its way to Montana

Measles outbreak could easily make its way to Montana

An outbreak of measles in southwestern Washington is growing worse by the day, with the number of cases soaring to 50 as of Monday, according to state health officials.

A new push for the measles vaccine, as cases of the highly contagious virus grow in the Pacific Northwest. Public health officer Dr. Alan Melnick said that it is fine for most people children who are not yet scheduled for the second dose, which is usually administered around the age of 5.

Two doses are 97 percent effective and public health officials in Washington recommend that everyone who is unvaccinated or only received one get both shots to avoid contracting measles.

A measure introduced by Republican Rep. Paul Harris of Vancouver, Washington - the epicenter of the current outbreak - would remove the personal exemption specifically for the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR. Washington's exemption rate, although lower, is also high when compared with other states.

Prior to the vaccine, measles caused approximately 450 to 500 deaths each year in the United States.

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The National Vaccine Information Center, which opposes mandatory vaccination laws, said it opposed that bill and the current one.

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"People are feeling extremely oppressed and feeling like they can't make an educated decision", said Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the group.

She said because people don't see the disease, some individuals are more scared of the vaccine than the virus.

They are 12 months old through preschool-aged and have documentation of one MMR vaccine. The largest recent outbreak in California was in 2015 - which was linked to Disneyland. "If you don't have records, you can always call your doctor's office to get them or you can get a re-vaccination if you're not able to confirm you've been vaccinated", she added.

But it's true for childhood immunizations in general. It starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, and is followed by a blotchy rash.

So how do people die of the measles? If a child does not complete the full series of immunizations in the first two years, he/she may be vulnerable to a disease that should have been prevented. Before mass vaccination, 400 to 500 people in the USA died of the measles every year. "There is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury", the agency notes, including deafness, long-term seizures, coma and brain damage or death.

Maldonado said what is happening now is people are getting looser with getting vaccinations for their children.

"If someone in the room has it and sneezes, and it goes around the room, pretty much anyone in that room will pick up that virus and may get sick from it if they're susceptible to it".