Measles Outbreak

Sophia Acuna, Author

There have been at least 35 confirmed cases of measles in Washington, and the number is growing. Measles is a highly contagious disease–anyone exposed to it has a 90% chance of catching it if they’re not immunized–with symptoms of fever, cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes; the disease can even lead to death in children. In the United States, measles is incredibly rare, so an outbreak of it is alarming.

The majority of the confirmed measles cases are children: 21 cases are in children between the ages of 1 and 10 years old, and nine are in children between the ages of 11 and 18 years old. However, measles can also affect adults. A man in his 50s in King County, Washington was confirmed to have caught the disease.

This sudden outbreak most likely has to do with an increase of parents choosing to not vaccinate their children in the past few years. For children born in 2011, only .9% were not vaccinated, but for children born in 2015, this number has risen to 1.3%. There has been recent controversy over whether or not vaccinating your children can lead to the development of autism, although there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim. The measles vaccination offers 95% protection against the disease. According to the Clark County Department of Public Health’s investigation, at least 30 of the confirmed cases were people who had not received the vaccine.

Washington declared a state of emergency last Friday, when there were only 26 confirmed cases of measles. Since then, 10 more cases have popped up, and it might continue to grow. Health officials worry that families with infected children will travel to public places and infect more people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to get vaccinated.