Measles infections hit decade high in Europe

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The Washington State Health Department hasn't identified "patient zero" in the Clark County measles outbreak that has tallied 50 confirmed cases in Clark County and 55 total cases in Washington and OR since January 1. It's so contagious that it can live in an air space for two hours. Seventy-nine cases of measles have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since the start of this year. It causes a range of symptoms including fever, cough and a rash. The extremely contagious disease could cause severe pneumonia, diarrhea, and vision loss, and ultimately can be deadly. But unvaccinated children tend to cluster together for many reasons.

The number of people infected with measles in the European region in 2018 is the highest in a decade, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

This represents a 74 per cent increase from 2018.

"The measles vaccine isn't flawless, but one dose is 93 percent effective at preventing illness", said Dr. Alan Melnick of the Clark County Public Health Department.

"The strain D8 in Washington's outbreak matches the strain from an ongoing Eastern European outbreak". In Washington state, permissive vaccination rules are being blamed for the outbreak.

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Similar outbreaks have been occurring in Europe: In 2017, there were 25,863 cases of measles; previous year, that surged to more than 82,000. If you took the remaining unvaccinated children and dispersed them equally around the country among vaccinated children, herd immunity would prevail: The unvaccinated child wouldn't be exposed to measles because everyone around him or her would be protected. The infection is easily preventable by a vaccine. The length of time children or staff are required to stay out of school is 21 days after the last reported case. Joan Robinson, a pediatric infectious diseases physician and editor of the Paediatrics & Child Health Journal, said that outbreaks often occur in small communities where children aren't vaccinated.

"We heard rumblings of a measles outbreak in the capital between December and January and I just knew we were going to get hit", Lon Kightlinger, a former South Dakota state epidemiologist and regular Peace Corp volunteer in Madagascar, tells CNN.

He said that while demand for the vaccine is increasing, there appears to be a good supply.

Heidi Larson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said the uptick in measles case in Europe presented a "wake-up call on the importance of building confidence in vaccination". About 600 people a day were vaccinated during the last week of January, compared to 200 people during the same period previous year.

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