By Kevin Kelleher
March 19, 2019

An outbreak of measles that began in January in southern Washington state has risen to 79 cases throughout Washington and Oregon, according to the Oregonian.

In late January, health officials in Washington’s Clark County, which sits north of Portland, Ore., reported that 22 people had been infected with measles in the city of Vancouver, Wash., with most of the cases involving children under 10.

Since then, the total of measles infections has risen to 79 cases as of Monday, with 73 of them in Vancouver or Clark County. The latest case reported involved an adult in their 30s. The rate of reported infections in the region continue to be around one a day. Exposure areas listed by Clark County and the Oregonian include hospitals and health clinics, Portland International Airport, and a trampoline park as well as a Red Robin restaurant in Salem, Ore.

Of Clark County’s 73 measles cases reported this year, 63 involved people who were not immunized against the disease and seven were people whose immunization status couldn’t be verified.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are currently five other outbreaks in the U.S. in New York City, New York’s Rockland County, Texas, Illinois, and California. All told, 268 measles cases have been reported in 2018, compared with 372 cases for all of 2018. An outbreak is generally defined as three or more linked cases of measles infections.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that can live for up to two hours in an airspace where an infected person has coughed or sneezed. The CDC says the disease is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

“In a given year, more measles cases can occur for any of the following reasons: an increase in the number of travelers who get measles abroad and bring it into the U.S., and/or further spread of measles in U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people,” the CDC’s site says.

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