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Washington Declares Public Health Emergency Over Measles

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According to reports, the number of measles cases in the state of Washington continues to grow as an outbreak rages on so much so that it’s been declared an emergency. Measles is an infectious viral disease causing fever and a red rash on the skin, typically occurring in childhood. The disease spreads through the air by respiratory droplets produced from coughing or sneezing.

In Washington, Clark County public health officials announced that there have now been 34 confirmed cases and nine suspected cases of the disease.The majority of those infected were children, with 24 of the 34 confirmed cases impacting children 10 years old or younger. Nine of the other cases are children between the ages of 11 and 18 years old. Only one of the confirmed cases appeared in someone who is between 19 and 29 years old.

A news release on the governor's website says the Washington State Department of Health, or DOH, has implemented an infectious disease incident management structure so it can manage the public health aspects of the outbreak through investigations and lab testing.

“The measles virus is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children,” Washington’s governor, Jay Inslee, said in his emergency declaration on Friday (via Vox). The governor goes on to say in his statement that since it’s spreading in Washington it creates an “extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties.” The Washington Military Department is also organizing resources to assist the Department of Health and local officials in easing the effects on people, property and infrastructure.

Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Over the last decade about 28 percent of children younger than 5 years old who had measles had to be treated in the hospital. For some children, measles can lead to pneumonia. Also, the risk of death from measles is higher for adults and infants than for children.

Keep in mind that measles symptoms don't appear until ten to 14 days after exposure. They include cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes, sore throat, fever, and a red, blotchy skin rash.

In addition, there's no treatment to get rid of an established measles infection, but over-the-counter fever reducers or vitamin A may help with symptoms. It takes an average of about two weeks from exposure to the first symptom, which is usually a fever. The measles rash doesn't usually appear until approximately 14 days after exposure and two to three days after the fever begins.

READ NEXT: Doctors Urge Parents To Vaccinate Younger Kids After Measles Outbreak

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