Measles outbreak grows in northwest US, 31 cases reported

VANCOUVER, Wash (AP) – The number of confirmed measles cases near Portland grew to 31 on Friday – an outbreak boosted by lower-than-normal vaccination rates in what has been called an anti-vaccination US “hot spot.”

Public health officials in southwest Washington, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, said people may have been exposed to the dangerous disease at more than three dozen locations, including Portland International Airport, a Portland Trail Blazers game, an Amazon Locker location and stores such as Costco and Ikea.

Twenty-six of the confirmed patients had not been vaccinated against measles, and the vaccination status of four others who were infected is unknown. One child has been hospitalised. Authorities said nine additional cases are suspected.

One case also has been confirmed in King County, which is home to Seattle and one was confirmed on Friday evening in Multnomah County, which is home to Portland.

Most of the cases involved children younger than 10, the Clark County Public Health Department said in a statement. One adult is infected, and the rest are teenagers. Oregon officials didn’t provide the age of the adult infected there.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, declared a statewide public health emergency for his state on Friday. Authorities in neighbouring Oregon and Idaho have issued warnings.

Inslee said the number of cases “creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties”.

The measles vaccine has been part of routine childhood shots for decades, and measles was declared eliminated in the US in 2000.