The State of Washington has declared a state of emergency after confirming 35 cases of the highly-contagious measles disease. In a new release posted the Washington State Department of Health website, Governor Jay Inslee reminded citizens that measles is an infectious disease with symptoms that can be fatal, especially to small children and the unvaccinated.

In Clark County alone, 34 patients have been diagnosed, 24 of whom are children aged 1 to 10 years old, not including those showing symptoms but whose cases are yet to be confirmed. The lone case involving a man over 50 years old was reported in King County, though his health history indicated that he had been in Clark County recently.

The measles virus is airborne and can be obtained from the droplets in the air that the infected person leaves behind, where it stays for as long as two hours. The spread is extremely rapid particularly when exposed to public places such as churches, schools, malls, and healthcare centers. Typical symptoms start off like the common flu and then eventually lead to Koplik spots on the side of the mouth, flat red rashes all over the body and high fever.

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The State of Washington has declared a state of emergency after confirming 35 cases of the highly-contagious measles disease. Pictured: A recent outbreak of measles has some doctors encouraging vaccination as the best way to prevent measles and its spread. Getty Images / Joe Raedle

According to the CDC, the best shield against measles is the MMR vaccine, which is usually given when a child turns one year old and then followed up with a booster shot when he or she turns four years. Now this is where the problem becomes tricky.

A report by Vox pointed out that Washington has been one of the most permissive states when it comes to giving families an option not to get their children vaccinated, regardless of their reasons. Before the independent campaign against vaccinations started, the United States had managed to declare a total elimination of the disease (2000) because all children were required to have it prior to entering kindergarten. However, as the rules became more liberated and relaxed in the recent years, it seems that the disease that was once totally gone has started to make a comeback.

Case in point, vaccine exemptions had gone up from 5.8 percent in 2015 to 7.5 percent in 2018 — and Clark County even takes the lead with a 7.9 percent rate of exemption. This is reportedly higher than the U.S. average of two percent.

The CNN also reported on there CDC’s nationwide findings that the number of kids under two years old with no vaccinations increased from 0.9 percent in 2011 to 1.3 percent in 2015. The CDC maintains that the two MMR doses are the best protection.

The debate between pro and anti-vaxxers continues. For now, Gov. Inslee has ordered that procedures under the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan be directed to the relevant state agencies to ensure that those who have been affected recover quickly and the rest be shielded from exposure through vaccination and other measures.