OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Friday in all counties in response to 31 confirmed cases of measles in Washington state.
“Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children,” Inslee stated in his proclamation, adding that the outbreak in Clark County is an “extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties.”
At least one confirmed case of measles in King County has been tentatively linked to the Clark County cases.
Inslee’s emergency declaration cites 26 confirmed cases of measles, but five more cases were confirmed Friday, bringing the total to 30 in Clark County and one in King County. In addition, there are nine more suspected cases in Clark County.
Inslee’s 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 request additional medical resources from other states.
The state Department of Health has instituted an infectious disease incident management plan to manage the public health aspects of the incident to include investigations, laboratory testing and other efforts to protect communities.
Meanwhile, the state Military Department is coordinating resources to support health officials and local officials in alleviating the impacts to people, property and infrastructure.
Measles is easily spread when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. Almost everyone who is not immune will get measles if they are exposed to the measles virus. Because measles is contagious before people realize they are sick, people who are not vaccinated may spread the disease without knowing.