A woman from Washington state died of measles last week. NPR’s Kelly McEvers talks to Seattle Times reporter JoNel Aleccia about the first confirmed measles death in the United States in 12 years.
From Washington State Department of Health
Tragic outcome for immunocompromised patient shows need for community protection
The death of a Clallam County woman this spring was due to an undetected measles infection that was discovered at autopsy.
The woman was most likely exposed to measles at a local medical facility during a recent outbreak in Clallam County.
She was there at the same time as a person who later developed a rash and was contagious for measles.
The woman had several other health conditions and was on medications that contributed to a suppressed immune system.
The last confirmed measles death in the United States was reported in 2003.
This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles. Continue reading
Only 83% of kindergarten students in Washington state arrive in the fall up-to-date on their immunizations, the Washington State Department of Health report.
This is well below the target goal of 95%, the level that is usually sufficient to halt the spread of infectious diseases such as measles through a community. None of the individual vaccines required for school meet this goal.
The low vaccination rate is of particular concern in light of recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, diseases which can be prevented with timely vaccination, health officials said.
About one in twenty, 4.5%, Washington state kindergarten students opted out of vaccinations due to medical, personal, or religious reasons. Washington has historically had high exemption rates for kindergarteners. Although exemption rates have come down since they peaked in 2008, but the improvement has leveled-off for the past few years.
In Washington, all recommended vaccines are available at no cost for kids through age 18 from health care providers across the state.
Although providers may charge an office visit fee and an administration fee for the vaccine, a family that can’t afford to pay can ask their regular provider to waive the administration fee.
For help finding a health care provider or an immunization clinic, call your local health agency, visit the ParentHelp123 resource finder, or call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
Before you travel internationally, ensure that you are up to date on all your routine vaccines, as well as travel vaccines.
More and more Americans are travelling internationally each year. Today more than a third of Americans have a passport. It is important to remember that some types of international travel, especially to developing countries and rural areas, have higher health risks.
These risks depend on a number of things including:
- Where you are traveling
- Your activities while traveling
- Your current health status
- Your vaccination history
Measles and International Travel
Each year, unvaccinated people get measles while in other countries and bring it to the United States. This has sometimes led to outbreaks. The majority of measles cases brought into the U.S. come from U.S. residents. When we can identify vaccine status, almost all are unvaccinated.
Vaccination is the best protection against measles. Before leaving for trips abroad, make sure you and your family are protected against measles. Plan ahead and check with your doctor to see if you and your family need MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.
It took 15 years and hundreds of millions of vaccines. But North America and South America have officially eradicated rubella, health authorities said Wednesday. Rubella, also known as German measles, is only the third virus eradicated from people in the Western Hemisphere.
Fueled in part by growing reports of measles cases nationwide — including a high-profile Disneyland outbreak — vaccinations to prevent the highly contagious disease jumped by 27 percent in Washington state this winter, compared with the same December-through-February stretch a year ago.
Every few years, stories appear about Vashon Island and its high percentage of unvaccinated kids. It happened again a few weeks ago in the wake of reports of measles outbreaks nationwide. Then the temporary publicity fades and this island of 11,000 goes back to the same old, same old. Which is: a deep divide between the pro and con camps that in most other ways are so much alike. Except that this time it got pretty vitriolic.
The first Quebecers to contract measles were exposed while visiting Disneyland in California. Public health officials said Wednesday that all of the 119 cases are related.
Scientists have long assumed the problem is that some parents are simply misinformed, and providing them “corrective information” will clear things up. But some studies have shown that doesn’t seem to work. For example, in the last 15 years, a leading concern of many vaccine opponents is that shots trigger autism in children. One recent study found that some vaccine-opposed parents could be presented with medical evidence disproving that, and seemed persuaded. But they also said they still did not intend to vaccinate their kids.
A fourth case of measles was identified in Clallam County. The fourth case is a 14-year old male who is a sibling of the second case. The 14-year old male was quarantined during his infectious period so he had no public contact.
Dr. Jeanette Stehr-Green, Clallam County Health Officer, again under scored the importance of adherence to quarantine among exposed persons, daily reports to Public Health nurses regarding symptoms, and no contacts with unvaccinated individuals as critical to stopping the spread of measles.
A person with measles is contagious from approximately four days before the onset of rash to four days after the rash appears and should not be in contact with any susceptible persons during this time.
Clallam County Health and Human Service, Public Health Section will continue with no cost clinics on February 23, 24, 26, and 27.
Clinics will be held at 111 3rd St, Port Angeles.
Feb. 23 Feb. 24 Feb. 26 Feb. 27
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
People are encouraged to call 360-417-2274 to make appointments. Walk-ins will be served but there may be a wait.
HHS continues to evaluate when and where to have clinics outside of the Port Angeles area. All parents are encouraged to check the vaccination status of children. Two vaccinations for children are needed for protection.
From January 1 to February 13, 2015, 141 people from 17 states and Washington DC were reported to have measles, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
State tallies: [AZ (7), CA (98), CO (1), DC (1), DE (1), IL (11), MI (1), MN (1), NE (2), NJ (1), NY (2), NV (4), OR (1), PA (1), SD (2) TX (1), UT (2), WA (4)]†. Most of these cases [113 cases (80%)] are part of a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.
The potential outbreak in the Puget Sound region is more than a health concern. The spread of measles or other preventable diseases could result in a ripple effect that could directly impact the local economy. If schools close to protect children from getting sick and parents then have to stay home, that could rack up a lot of missed days at work. Costs to the public health system and hospitals can also easily spiral out of control.
From the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
February 6 – An outbreak of mumps that began in September 2014 among students at the Moscow campus of the University of Idaho continues to spread outside the Moscow area.
Idaho has 21 reported confirmed and probable cases, including six in the Boise area, as of Friday, Feb. 6. Two cases in Washington also are associated with this outbreak.
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best way to prevent mumps and measles. Public health officials urge students and people who come in close contact with them to check their vaccination records to make certain they are current for MMR vaccine.
Examples of close contact include face-to-face contact or living in the same home. Mumps also spreads easily from sharing saliva through kissing, shared eating utensils or water bottles.
University of Idaho students and those in close contact with them who have not previously had mumps or who have no record of any doses of MMR vaccine should receive two doses at least 28 days apart.
Those who received only one dose should receive a second dose. Student health services, primary care providers, local public health offices, and local pharmacies may offer the vaccine.
The MMR vaccine will also protect against measles, which is increasing in the western U.S. because of a large outbreak linked to an amusement park in California. Continue reading
By Christine Vestal
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory this month about an ongoing measles outbreak, with more than 102 cases in 14 states so far. The highly contagious disease can cause severe health complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death.
By 2000, measles had been nearly wiped out in the U.S., with fewer than 60 cases per year – most connected with foreign travel. Public health officials declared victory, the result of effective state-based immunization campaigns requiring kids to be vaccinated before they enter public schools.
Since then, however, the number of cases has risen along with the number of parents who have received religious or philosophical exceptions to state rules. In 2014, there were at least 23 outbreaks and more than 600 cases.
The federal government’s goal is to immunize at least 90 percent of all children before they enter school to keep measles and other childhood diseases at bay. Although the national average immunization rate (91.1 percent) exceeds that number, several states fall below it.
“To have pockets where community immunity is below 90 percent is worrisome as they will be the ones most vulnerable to a case of measles exploding into an outbreak,” said Litjen (L.J) Tan, chief strategy officer of the Immunization Action Coalition, which advocates for higher levels of immunization.
State immunization rates vary widely, with generally lower rates of inoculation occurring in states that make it relatively easy to get an exception. Lawmakers in California, Oregon, and Washington state are trying to tighten their laws to allow fewer nonmedical exemptions.
Laws allowing religious exemptions have been around longer than those allowing philosophical or “personal belief” exemptions, said Joy Wilson, of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In many but not all states, philosophical exemptions are easier to get than religious exemptions, which typically require parents to cite and explain the religious doctrine in question. Overall, states with philosophical exemptions have 2.5 times the rate of opt-outs than states with only religious exemptions.