"In a given year, more measles cases can occur for any of the following reasons: an increase in the number of travelers who get measles overseas and bring it into the US and/or further spread of measles in USA communities with pockets of unvaccinated people", the CDC website says.
At least eight other states have reported measles cases this year.
The Portland area is an anti-vaccination hot spot, and state data show only about 77 percent of Clark County kindergarteners had completed their vaccinations for the 2017-2018 school year, far below the roughly 95 percent of people that health experts say should be vaccinated to create "herd immunity" against a contagious disease like measles.
However, there are 11 people who display symptoms of measles and are awaiting the results of blood work to confirm the diagnosis.
Measles usually manifests as a combination of high fever, as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit, along with what is known as the three Cs: cough, coryza (another word for runny nose), and conjunctivitis or pink eye, Sammons explained. One patient did receive a vaccination against MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), but the health agency declined to provide more details on that case "to protect the patient's privacy".
If you are unsure of your family's immunization status, you can view, download and print your family's immunization information online at wa.MyIR.net or request a copy of your immunization record from the Washington State Department of Health.
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"There's a reason why the World Health Organization and the CDC came out in the early 2000s to say that measles is nearly eradicated in the sense that, you know it pops up every once in a while". Older children and adults, even if they've never been vaccinated, may have developed natural immunity through previous infections.
In 2000, he said medical professionals announces there were no cases of measles in the US due to the vaccine.
"That is what we are seeing now", Maldonado said.
The measles virus spreads through coughing and sneezing and can live in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed for up to two hours. Then, families travel to other countries where the virus is more common, and since they are unprotected, they bring the virus back to the U.S. This is when outbreaks occur.
Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, more than three million people got measles each year in the United States - of those, more than 400 died.
"The measles vaccine isn't ideal, but one dose is 93 percent effective at preventing illness", Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County's health officer, said in a statement. Two does are about 97 percent effective. "They are miserable and very sick-appearing", she said.
In all, at least 79 cases have been reported nationwide this year.