Measles Outbreak Prompts Emergency Declaration in Washington State

Thirty-six cases had been confirmed in two counties as of Jan. 28. Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation calls the outbreak “an extreme public health risk.”

Thirty-six cases of measles have been confirmed in two Washington State counties as of Jan. 28. Gov. Jay Inslee already has declared a state of emergency today in all counties in the state, after Clark County declared a local public health emergency beginning Jan. 18.

"Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children," Inslee said in his proclamation. "The existence of 26 confirmed cases in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties."

The proclamation directs state agencies and departments to utilize state resources and do everything reasonably possible to assist affected areas. A proclamation is also necessary to utilize the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to request additional medical resources from other states. The Washington State Department of Health has instituted an infectious disease Incident Management Structure to manage the public health aspects of the incident to include investigations, laboratory testing, and other efforts to protect communities, and the Washington Military Department is coordinating resources to support DOH and local officials in alleviating the impacts to people, property, and infrastructure.

"Measles is a highly contagious disease and if you don't have immunity, you can get it just by being in a room where a person with measles has been," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "Fortunately, the measles vaccine is very effective. Two doses of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine provides over 95 percent protection against measles, and that protection is long lasting."

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