VANCOUVER, Washington (AP) — A measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest became more worrisome on Wednesday with word that people infected with the extremely contagious viral illness travelled to Hawaii and central Oregon after being exposed.
The revelation prompted public health officials in Oregon’s Deschutes County and in Hawaii to issue alerts, although no cases were confirmed in either location.
“It raises concerns that this can go on for a long time, become geographically larger than it is and more cases over weeks and months,” said Public Health Director for Clark County Dr Alan Melnick which is at the epicentre of the outbreak and has a lower-than-normal vaccination rate.
There are 40 confirmed cases in the Northwest, including 38 clustered in southwest Washington, one in Portland and one in Seattle. Thirteen additional suspected cases were reported on Wednesday, and some of those will likely be confirmed, Melnick said. Officials have not yet determined how the measles outbreak started. The first patient sought medical care on December 31, but other sick people may not have gone to a doctor or hospital, he said.