Officials Report Measles Cases Increasing in Washington
For the first time since 1996, the number of measles cases in Washington State has reached an all time high. State officials are stressing the importance of getting vaccinated against the illness, which causes fever, runny nose, cough and rash.
The Washington State Department of Health's spokeswoman, Kelly Stowe, stated that there have been a total of 27 measles cases within the state so far this year. Six cases were reported in Whatcom County while eight more were confirmed in south King County.
This number, which could continue to grow since measles is a highly contagious disease, represents an increase by five cases from last year. The total number of reported cases this year is also higher than the combined number of cases within the state over the past five years.
"It is concerning," Stowe stated according to FOX News.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 17 measles outbreaks confirmed throughout 20 states in this year alone. The outbreaks could be tied to a total of 554 cases.
The officials stated that even though 27 cases might not seem like a lot, the cases are still alarming because homegrown measles was declared eradicated in the United States back in 2000. The officials found that the increase in measles cases correlated to a decrease in the residents' vaccination rate. The lack of vaccinations in combination with travelers who returned with the disease can jeopardize the health of the community.
"If you're going to be traveling overseas, especially to places that are known to have large numbers of measles cases and you're not vaccinated," Dr. Greg Stern, a health officer with Whatcom County said reported by The Bellingham Herald. "There's a real high risk of, if you get sick, of bringing it back."
The measles vaccine is the best protection against the illness. It also protects against the mumps and rubella.