Medicine

Northwest measles outbreak revives debate over vaccine laws

Northwest measles outbreak revives debate over vaccine laws

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed measles in three residents of the metro Atlanta area.

Across the state, 40 people were diagnosed with measles in January, and there have been at 186 cases since October, with the largest number of cases in Rockland, state health officials said.

Recognize the symptoms. Early signs of measles resemble those of a cold or the flu: a runny nose, cough, fever, red eyes and sore throat tend to appear before the telltale rash begins to spread.

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The vaccine has been part of routine childhood shots for decades. Washington also has a higher-than-average percentage of vaccine exemptions. That does leave about 1,600 students in those counties, combined, who might not be protected from the measles. However, since there have not been any confirmed cases in Chelan or Douglas County, students and staff are not now being excluded from school or child care.

The outbreak has lawmakers in Washington state revisiting non-medical exemptions that allow children to attend school without vaccinations if their parents or guardians express a personal objection.

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The disease is highly contagious and can have complications that are deadly.

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. And say they're seeing about five new cases each day.

Failure to vaccinate children lowers what is known as the "herd immunity" of any given population, making it much easier for diseases to spread between individuals who haven't been vaccinated. "They may need to be hospitalized and could die".

The very best protection against the disease is to get the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The first dose of the MMR is typically given when a child is 12 to 15 months old.

Opposition to vaccines is generally based on junk science that has been endorsed by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy who, with Oprah's help, falsely hinted that there may be something risky about the measles vaccine. "With vaccinations, just to see those rates drop so dramatically, that's been the treatment". The King County measles case involved a middle-aged man who visited Clark County where he likely contracted the virus and has since recovered.


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