Authorities say there are now 40 confirmed cases of measles in a Pacific Northwest outbreak.
Of the confirmed cases, most patients are under age 10.
The two-dose vaccine against measles was introduced in 1978 in the U.S., and by 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared it 'eliminated'.
Health officials say vaccination is especially important if travel is planned to outbreak areas or foreign countries, but that vaccination is very important for the entire population, since someone who has been exposed where an outbreak is occurring could become infected and transmit the disease in our community upon traveling here.
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Clark County, Washington, has a vaccination rate of 78 percent, well below the level necessary to protect those with compromised immune systems or who can't get vaccinated because of medical issues or because they are too young. One to three cases out of every 1,000 are fatal, he said.
Clark County Public Health says there are now 13 additional suspected cases. "It's still out there, even though it's been debunked, that the measles vaccine results in autism".
Thirty-one of the confirmed patients had not been vaccinated against measles. Pre-vaccine, measles was the cause of deafness, encephalitis or death for some children. But measles is still a big problem in other parts of the world, and travelers infected overseas can bring the virus back and spread it, causing periodic outbreaks. The MMR vaccine is typically given to children in two doses, at 12 months and between 4 and 6 years of age.
Daniel Salmon, who is the director of the Institute of Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University, told ABC News earlier this week that outbreaks typically start when an American travels to Europe, where there are much higher rates of measles than in the USA, and that person brings it back. One vaccine provides 93 percent immunity from measles, and two shots provide 97 percent protection. "People have forgotten how they "were clamoring" for a vaccine", he says.
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The exposure at Minnehaha, from 3:45 to 7:45 p.m. January 17, did occur after school, but given how close the exposure was to the end of a regular school day, Public Health is still implementing the same exclusions as they've done at other schools. "I'm just so scared", she said.
Those who may have been exposed should watch for early symptoms of high fever, malaise and red eyes, followed by a rash that starts on the head and moves down the body.
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. "The virus can actually live for about two hours on surfaces and in the air", warns Patel.
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