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Officials declare measles outbreak in Pacific Northwest over

Officials in the Pacific Northwest say a measles outbreak that sickened 71 people is over.

Posted: Apr 29, 2019 11:54 AM
Updated: Apr 29, 2019 3:59 PM

By GILLIAN FLACCUS Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A measles outbreak that sickened more than 70 people, mostly children, in the Pacific Northwest is finally over even as the total number of cases nationwide continues to spike to near-record levels , officials said Monday.

Six weeks have passed without a new infection in southwest Washington state, where the outbreak began on Jan. 3, said Dr. Alan Melnick, head of the Clark County public health department. A total of 71 people were infected — a tally that does not include a handful of cases in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle that were linked to the outbreak's epicenter.

The good news from the Pacific Northwest comes as authorities elsewhere struggled with the most measles cases in the U.S. since 1994. Across the country, 704 cases have been reported in 22 states as of Monday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A large outbreak in the New York City area has stymied public health officials and more than 350 students at two major California universities remained quarantined after possible exposure, down from 800 students last week.

"We're grateful to see this outbreak come to an end without any deaths or serious complications," Melnick said. "But as long as measles exists elsewhere in the world and people continue travel, we're at risk of seeing another outbreak. We must improve our immunization rates to prevent future outbreaks and keep our children and other vulnerable people safe."

In Washington state, the outbreak began four months ago when measles was confirmed in a child who had traveled from the Ukraine to the U.S. Authorities could not determine, however, that the child was the source of the outbreak.

It spread quickly among unvaccinated children: Ninety-three percent of the cases were in those under age 18 and 86 percent of patients were unvaccinated, while 14 percent had had just one dose of a two-dose series of shots or didn't know their vaccination status. One person was hospitalized.

The outbreak cost nearly $1 million and 19,000 hours of staffing time to contain and affected 53 public places, including schools, hospitals, airports, stores and restaurants in both Washington and Oregon, officials said.

Melnick said during the outbreak, public health authorities struggling to contain its spread identified and contacted more than 4,100 people who were exposed to the viral illness and made daily monitoring phone calls to more than 800 people considered susceptible to contracting measles.

The outbreak prompted a public conversation in both Washington and Oregon about routine childhood vaccines.

The two liberal-leaning states have some of the nation's highest statewide vaccine exemption rates, driven in part by low vaccination levels in scattered communities and at some private and alternative schools.

Four percent of Washington secondary school students have non-medical vaccine exemptions. In Oregon, which has a similar law, 7.5 percent of kindergarteners in 2018 were missing shots for non-medical reasons.

Numerous studies have shown vaccines do not cause autism — a common reason cited by those who don't want their kids immunized.

In Washington, lawmakers sent a bill to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk that would tighten up exemption rules for the mumps, measles and rubella shots. In Oregon, lawmakers will vote to remove a families' ability to opt-out of required school vaccinations for personal, philosophical or religious reasons.

Before mass vaccination, 400 to 500 people in the U.S. died of the measles every year. Serious complications include brain swelling that can cause blindness or deafness and pneumonia.

Early symptoms include a fever, runny nose and malaise, followed by a rash that starts around the head and moves down the body. Patients are contagious four days before and four days after getting the rash.

Nine out of 10 unvaccinated people who are exposed will get the disease. Someone who has no immunity can get sick up to three weeks after they have been exposed to the virus.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 40443

Reported Deaths: 635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah8743155
Marion5590106
Washington546973
Umatilla329543
Clackamas299065
Lane221226
Malheur186634
Jackson15556
Deschutes107413
Yamhill95615
Linn76414
Polk63915
Jefferson5979
Morrow5426
Lincoln50913
Union4582
Benton4186
Klamath4013
Wasco33515
Douglas3314
Hood River2721
Josephine2583
Columbia2491
Clatsop2340
Coos2290
Baker1132
Crook872
Tillamook700
Curry561
Wallowa402
Lake340
Sherman180
Harney170
Gilliam110
Grant100
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 886939

Reported Deaths: 17167
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2904866944
Riverside650561275
San Bernardino609451065
Orange576351423
San Diego53263863
Kern33551413
Fresno30220430
Sacramento24811474
Santa Clara23591382
Alameda22932435
San Joaquin21436484
Contra Costa18273238
Stanislaus17403394
Tulare17317279
Ventura13930160
Imperial12610336
San Francisco11969137
Monterey1115884
San Mateo10918157
Santa Barbara9671119
Merced9386153
Sonoma9016134
Kings817383
Solano720574
Marin7036127
Madera492873
San Luis Obispo408032
Placer402355
Yolo309958
Butte302651
Santa Cruz272524
Napa190814
Sutter182112
Shasta178629
San Benito141114
El Dorado13024
Yuba128010
Mendocino111121
Tehama7938
Lassen7611
Lake67815
Glenn6473
Nevada5988
Humboldt5609
Colusa5486
Calaveras33917
Amador31316
Tuolumne2574
Inyo21815
Siskiyou1860
Del Norte1751
Mono1752
Mariposa782
Plumas610
Modoc270
Trinity250
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
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