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North Dakota sends team to help with Washington measles breakout

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BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota is sending an emergency response team to assist in efforts to control an escalating measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest.

The North Dakota Department of Health Emergency Preparedness and Response will deploy a five-member unit to relieve existing members of the Washington state response group, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

"We are pleased to assist with this serious public health emergency," said Tim Wiedrich, Emergency Preparedness and Response's section chief. "Our participation not only assists Washington but also strengthens our North Dakota response capabilities."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Jan. 25 because of the measles outbreak.

Public health officials in the state have confirmed 43 measles cases mostly clustered in southwest Washington. Most patients were under 10 and not immunized.

Public health authorities recommend that all children be vaccinated against the extremely contagious viral illness at ages 12 to 15 months and 4 to 6 years.

Washington submitted a request for the specialized team through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. The mutual aid agency enables a disaster-impacted state to request and receive aid from other member states swiftly and efficiently.

The Emergency Management Assistance Compact has been ratified by the federal government in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Washington will reimburse North Dakota's expenses as outlined in the agency's request.

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