The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Measles outbreak misses Wahkiakum; vaccinations needed


February 7, 2019

The measles outbreak affecting the Portland-Vancouver area hasn't hit Wahkiakum County, yet.

As of Sunday, 51 cases of the highly contagious disease had been diagnosed in Portland, Vancouver and Seattle.

So far, there have been none locally, Chris Bischoff, director of Wahkiakum County Health and Human Services said Tuesday as the county board of commissioners met as the county board of health. There is one possible case in Cowlitz County.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, "Measles is a childhood infection caused by a virus. Once quite common, measles can now almost always be prevented with a vaccine.

"Also called rubeola, measles can be serious and even fatal for small children. While death rates have been falling worldwide as more children receive the measles vaccine, the disease still kills more than 100,000 people a year, most under the age of 5."

Symptoms include fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis), tiny white spots with bluish-white centers on a red background found inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek, and a skin rash made up of large, flat blotches that often flow into one another.

The disease can be fatal, Bischoff said.

It usually occurs in two population groups--immigrants who aren't acquainted with vaccination programs and a group of people who fear vaccines will cause autism, a belief, he said, that has been proven untrue in countless studies.

Among unvaccinated people, the disease spreads easily, Bischoff said. With widespread vaccination, the disease is rare.

Vaccinations, however, can weaken over time, so people may want to check with health care providers about their need to revaccinate. And there are people who are allergic or for some other physical reason can't be vaccinated.

"If you can vaccinate enough people, the disease can't spread," Bischoff said, "and the people who can't be vaccinated are protected."

State law normally requires children to have a variety of immunizations in order to enter school, but the law also allows people to opt out.

"Those parents can come in and say, ‘I don't want to do it,'" Bischoff said.

"It's pretty contentious. ‘Why do I have to be vaccinated,' they ask. The answer is, ‘You're not choosing for you; you're doing it for every one else around you.’"

"I want to back up everything Chris Bischoff said about vaccination," commented Skamokawa resident Boone Mora, a retired public health doctor.

He pointed out that the age of life expectancy has markedly increased in the last 100 years, thanks to vaccinations.

"The world has eliminated smallpox, and they've done it with vaccinations," he said.

As for measles, fears arising from misinformation leads to troubling outbreaks.


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