A new measles outbreak is rocking the Pacific Northwest. The epicenter of this outbreak, Olympia, Washington, experienced over 50 confirmed cases of measles, with a few more cases reported outside of the city. The anti-vax hotspot at the center of the epidemic has recently seen a sudden increase in the number of vaccines given. Vaccines in the county are up 500% from just one month ago. From the confirmed cases to the anti-vax protests, here are a few things to know about the developing story.
Why Measles Spreads So Fast
One range explains why measles spreads so quickly: five to seven. This number, deemed the r-nought, explains the basic reproductive rate, or how many people get sickened from one person with the virus. While the flu, HIV, and Ebola have an r-nought value of between one and two, measles, polio, rubella, and similar illnesses carry a number between five and seven, nearly three to five times higher than the flu and other similarly contagious diseases.
Anti-Vax Parents Protest
Amid all of the chaos of the confirmed cases, parents that have unvaccinated children are on the defensive and have gathered to protest a recent bill. Last Friday, hundreds of people gathered in Olympia, the state capitol and a current measles hotspot, to protest a recently proposed law that would make philosophical exemptions to the measles vaccine illegal. Currently, Washington is one of 18 states to allow a philosophical exclusion. Along with other states like Texas, states that would enable children to remain unvaccinated are seeing unprecedented numbers of cases.
Vaccination Rates Up
A small win in this situation? The number of children getting vaccinated across Washington state and the entire country is up. In Clark County, the center of the outbreak, vaccination rates are up 500%. Across Washington state, vaccination rates are up by 30%. The genuine cases of measles that are rocking the country are, ironically, one of the biggest drivers for vaccination. As a note, once someone receives the measles vaccine, it takes approximately 72 hours for the vaccine to confer protection from measles.
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