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Measles outbreak ends in Clark County

Data pix.

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Clark County Public Health has declared an end to the measles outbreak after six weeks with no new cases.

Public Health confirmed 71 cases of measles during the months-long outbreak. Two confirmed cases previously included in the Clark County totals have been removed. Those two people moved to Georgia during the outbreak and are being counted in that state’s measles case numbers.

The Clark County total does not include King County and Oregon cases that have been linked to the local outbreak.

The outbreak began Jan. 3, when laboratory testing confirmed measles in a child who traveled to Clark County from Ukraine. Based on the information gathered during the investigation, Public Health could not determine whether this case was the source of the outbreak.

The local outbreak predominantly affected children – 93 percent of cases were 1 to 18 years old – and people who were not immunized. One person was hospitalized.

Here are the details of the 71 confirmed cases:

  • Age
    • 1 to 10 years: 52 cases
    • 11 to 18 years: 14 cases
    • 19 to 29 years: one case
    • 30 to 39 years: four cases
  • Immunization status​
    • Unimmunized: 61 cases
    • Unverified: seven cases
    • 1 MMR vaccine: three cases

“We’re grateful to see this outbreak come to an end without any deaths or serious complications,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director. “But as long as measles exists elsewhere in the world and people continue travel, we’re at risk of seeing another outbreak. We must improve our immunization rates to prevent future outbreaks and keep our children and other vulnerable people safe.”

Public Health identified 53 public sites where confirmed cases may have exposed others to the measles virus. Exposure sites included 13 health care facilities, 15 schools and child care centers, one workplace and 24 other public places, such as grocery stores, retail establishments and churches.

Based on Public Health’s investigation, the 71 confirmed cases most likely contracted measles within the household (51 percent); at a general public location, such as a grocery store, retail establishment or church (25 percent); or at a school or child care center (16 percent). One case (1 percent) was most likely exposed during international travel. Public Health could not determine the likely site of exposure for the remaining 7 percent of cases.

During the outbreak investigation, Public Health identified and contacted more than 4,100 people who were exposed to measles and made daily monitoring phone calls to more than 800 people considered susceptible to contracting measles. Local schools identified and excluded 849 susceptible students who were exposed to measles.

Immunoglobulin – antibodies that can help prevent measles infection – was administered to 44 infants, pregnant women and other children younger than 5 years old who were exposed to measles. Immunoglobulin must be administered within six days of exposure.

Public Health activated its incident management teams to respond to the measles outbreak on Jan. 15 and spent 63 days in incident response. More than 230 people worked on the incident, including 89 Public Health staff, 57 Washington Department of Health staff, 50 Medical Reserve Corps volunteers and three Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff, as well as partners from other health departments and local volunteers.

Responders worked more than 19,000 hours on the measles outbreak, with Public Health staff clocking 12,684 hours on the outbreak. Public Health’s total cost for the outbreak is $864,679, with staffing costs accounting for the largest share ($616,265 for Public Health staff).

Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring declared on Friday, Jan. 18 a public health emergency in response to the measles outbreak. On Friday, Jan. 25, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in response to the measles outbreak in Washington.

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