HSE warns of measles outbreak in Donegal

Kenny Tucker
February 8, 2019

The Multnomah County health department said Wednesday that the three new cases were in close contact with a person who tested positive for measles a week and a half ago.

The Clark County health department has stressed the dangers of measles, which is an extremely contagious, air-borne viral disease.

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. Measles usually starts with high fever, cough, and runny nose, as well as red, watery eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Statewide in Washington, orders for measles vaccine jumped about 30 percent, climbing from 12,140 doses to 15,780 doses, figures showed. It's so contagious that it can live in an air space for two hours.

Complications can include otitis media, pneumonia, encephalitis, seizures and death. That is almost a 500 percent jump in orders from January a year ago, when the total was just 530.

Two adults died from measles in 2017 in the UK.

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"These outbreaks are associated with travelers who brought measles back from Israel and Ukraine, where large measles outbreaks are occurring", the CDC says. In Washington state, permissive vaccination rules are being blamed for the outbreak.

Ukraine reported the highest number of measles cases past year - more than 10 times that of the next highest, Serbia.

The WHO says the 2018 surge in measles cases followed a year when European countries achieved their highest ever estimated coverage for the second dose of the measles vaccination - 90%. "I would rather it not take an outbreak for this to happen", Alan Melnick, the Clark County health officer overseeing the response, told KHN. Orders of measles vaccines in the county reached 3,150 in January.

"Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent measles", said Dr. Matt Richardson, Director of Public Health.

"This outbreak has put people at real risk", said Ann Thomas, public health physician at the Oregon Health Authority. One patient had received one dose of the MMR vaccine.

On Wednesday, officials sent letters to families of 5,000 children in Multnomah County, telling them they'll be excluded from school if they don't have up-to-date immunizations or valid exemptions by February 20.

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