Washington declared a state of emergency late last month after several measles cases were reported in Clark County and surrounding areas.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, January saw a severe increase in measles outbreaks across the U.S. including Texas, California, Oregon and New Jersey.
In 2000, the CDC successfully eradicated the disease using an effective vaccination program throughout America. The reemergence of the highly contagious disease left many medical organizations concerned with the legal flexibility around vaccinating children.
For over 20 years, the anti-vaccination movement has made consequential statements linking autism to vaccinations. However, in 2011 the Institute of Medicine reported there is no connection between vaccines and autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. In 2013 the CDC conducted further research to reassure the population vaccinations are safe and necessary for a healthy population.
"The study looked at the number of antigens (substances in vaccines that cause the body’s immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies) from vaccines during the first two years of life. The results showed that the total amount of antigen from vaccines received was the same between children with ASD and those that did not have ASD." stated the CDC.
According to their public health records, Clark County has one of the lowest rates of vaccinations in Washington, with 78 percent of 6 to 18-year-olds having the age-appropriate amount of MMR doses, a vaccine that prevents mumps, measles and rubella.
After exposure, symptoms take roughly 10-12 days to appear, according to the World Health Organization.
Measles usually begins with a runny nose, bloodshot eyes and a high fever. Once symptoms settle, a rash of flat red spots will develop around the face and work its way down to the torso, arms and legs. It's easily spread through physical contact, coughing and sneezing.
“If you have a population that is unvaccinated, it’s like throwing a match into a can of gasoline,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County’s public health director
In 2012, 55 cases were reported for the entire year. In 2019, the United States has seen a total of 79 cases in January alone, with Washington carrying the vast majority at 50 cases.
Since Jan. 1, there have been 35 reported cases of measles in Clark County, Washington. Of the 35 infected with measles, 34 of them are under the age of 10.
The Washington State Department of Health urges anyone who feels ill and has potentially been exposed to the disease to stay home and seek medical attention.