State of emergency declared due to measles outbreak


Jack Belcher, News Editor

Washington state health officials declare a state of emergency after recent measles outbreak in the state.

While the outbreak is still located hours away from Ellensburg, measles is one of the most infectious diseases in the world. There are currently over 35 cases of measles in the state of Washington.

CWU does not require that students get the MMR vaccine, and so while the nearest case of measles is still hours away from the university, Bauer said that it is a good idea to make sure that you are vaccinated and if not, to get the vaccine which is offered for free to students at the SMaCC. A way for students to check to see if they have been vaccinated is by going to or by talking to your parents, legal guardian or by calling your childhood doctors office.

In Clark County, where most of the cases are located, 7.9 percent of children had gotten exemptions from vaccines for entry into kindergarten in the 2017-’18 school year, according to the Washington Post.

“When you have community groups that have a large population that doesn’t vaccinate the risk (of contracting measles) is greater because you don’t have that hard immunity,” Registered Nurse at the Student Medical and Counseling Clinic (SMaCC), Kelly Bauer said.

In 1912, measles was officially recognized by the U.S. and it was required that all cases be reported. According to the CDC, the average yearly death toll of measles was 6,000 for the first decade that the disease was reported.

The CDC states that before the vaccine was invented, it is estimated that 3 to 4 million people in the U.S. were infected each year. In 1963, the first measles vaccine was invented by John F. Enders and Dr. Thomas C. Peebles. This was then improved upon in 1968 by Maurice Hilleman and colleagues. This vaccine is usually administered along with the vaccines for mumps and rubella, which is usually referred to as the MMR vaccine.

According to a NPR article about the recent outbreak, in 31 of the reported cases the person who contracted the disease reported that they were not immunized, which means that they were likely not given the MMR vaccine.

“The vaccine is not dangerous, it does not cause autism,” Bauer said.

Bauer said that she has vaccinated all five of her children and would not give out a vaccine to others if she wouldn’t feel confident giving it to her own children.

According to the CDC, they set a goal in 1978 to eliminate the virus by 1982. This goal was not met (although the number of reported measles cases dropped by 80 percent), and it was recommended to give children a second dose of the vaccine.

In 2000, the vaccine was officially declared eliminated in the U.S., which means that there was a continued absence of the disease transmission for over 12 months. The CDC states that this was because of the vaccination program in the U.S.

In 2016, the CDC reported 86 cases of measles in the entirety of the U.S. In 2017 that number rose to 120, and then 349 in 2018. So far in Washington state there have been over 35 reported cases of measles in 2019.

The virus can be transferred through the air, and can stay in the air hours after an infected person has left the room. It is likely that anyone not immunized will contract the virus if they make contact with someone who is infected.

An infected person may not even know that they have contracted the disease because it can take the days for the measles symptoms become noticeable, and some people may think that they just have a cold until the rash breaks out.