Measles cases in Europe tripled a year ago, World Health Organization says

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 8, 2019

Demand for measles vaccines leapt 500 percent last month in Clark County, Washington-a hotbed for anti-vaccine sentiment that has now become the epicenter of a ferocious measles outbreak.

As of Wednesday, the Clark County Public Health Department had confirmed 50 cases of meales since January 1. An additional case was confirmed in King County, which includes Seattle, and in Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes Portland and lies across the Columbia River from Clark County.

Health officials have long feared an outbreak in the area, given the rampant skepticism of vaccines driven by misinformation and fear-mongering by anti-vaccine advocates. Overall, the county's population is below the 92-percent to 94-percent range some experts consider necessary to curb the spread of disease.

"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. Concern over the vaccine can be traced back to a 1998 paper by former doctor Andrew Wakefield, who falsely linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism. According to the World Health Organization, before the introduction of measles vaccination in 1963, the virus caused 2.6 million deaths every year. Statewide vaccine figures also reflect a boost. Forty-two patients were not immunized against the virus, while health officials had not verified the immunization status of six patients. "We may never know who "patient zero" is and ... it doesn't have any impact on how we're responding to this outbreak".

"The virus can stay in a room for two hours after someone with the disease has been in there". If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch a contaminated surface, then touch their eyes, noses or mouths, they can become infected.

In the WHO's European region, which covers almost 900 million people, some 82,600 in 47 countries contracted measles past year - the highest number this decade.

However, measles is highly contagious.

The Northwest cases are among three ongoing measles outbreaks in the United States that sickened 79 people in January, according to the CDC. Measles infection can have serious complications such as pneumonia, seizures and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if a person has measles, 90 per cent of those in proximity will also contract the virus unless they have been vaccinated or are immune.

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