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'We are Going to Have More:' Measles Threat Grows

08 February 2019

The number of people contracting measles in 2018 across Europe was the highest number for a decade, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

Kate Brown urged residents to get vaccinated Thursday as public health officials in OR and Washington reported a combined 56 confirmed cases of measles. The Pacific Northwest outbreak includes one confirmed case in King County, where Seattle is located, and four in Multnomah County, which includes Portland, Ore. Among the confirmed cases, 43 were not immunized against the highly contagious disease.

Vaccination rates in Clark County and throughout the state have gone up since the outbreak was first reported.

Clark County Public Health is continuing its measles outbreak investigation.

In nearly every instance, the infected person had not received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. There are now 3 suspected cases in individuals who received the vaccine more than 72 hours after exposure.

The WHO also said record numbers of children are getting the vaccine - offering hope the rise in infections may not last.

Some 95% of children received the first dose of the vaccine.

In the US, 79 cases of measles have been reported so far this year - already one-fifth of last year's total.

In the third week of January, 644 children aged 1-18 were vaccinated against measles in the county. "We must do more and do it better to protect each and every person from diseases that can be easily avoided", Jakab said.

With more suspected cases, the outbreak isn't close to being over, officials said. Most importantly, at least 95% of every population needs to be immune, through two doses of vaccination or prior exposure to the virus, to ensure community protection for everyone - including babies too young to be vaccinated and others who can not be immunized due to existing diseases and medical conditions.

While more children in Europe are being vaccinated against measles than ever before, progress has been "uneven" between countries and individual countries have some patches where vaccine take-up is low, it said.

The "anti-vaxxers" movement still thrives in many pockets of the United States. Texas, which allows philosophical and religious vaccine exemptions, has 6 confirmed measles cases in 2019, 3 of which have been confirmed in Harris County. "There are some more isolated, unvaccinated communities, for example the Amish, where we haven't seen a major outbreak".

'We are Going to Have More:' Measles Threat Grows