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News / Health / Clark County Health

Clark County measles outbreak may be halfway over

Full incubation period has passed without new confirmed cases

By Wyatt Stayner, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 8, 2019, 7:08pm

April 28 will be an important day for Clark County.

If the county can reach that Sunday without adding confirmed measles cases to its current count of 73, the local outbreak will be officially declared over. On Monday, Clark County Public Health announced it has been 21 days — or one full incubation period — without any new confirmed cases. That means, if things stay the same, this outbreak is halfway over.

There are currently no suspected cases in the three-month-long measles outbreak, according to Clark County Public Health. On Jan. 4, Public Health announced it was investigating a case of measles in a child who traveled to Clark County from outside of the country in late December.

The outbreak has since spread into King County and Multnomah County in Oregon, and recorded high-profile exposure sites such as the Portland International Airport and the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter during a Portland Trail Blazers game.

According to the most recent numbers Public Health can provide, the outbreak has cost Clark County slightly more than $823,000 to fight — $80,000 of which the county could recoup through the state emergency response grant.

Clark County Public Health was consumed by the outbreak for months, pulling employees from other departments to assist in the response. At the outbreak’s peak, about 50 people were working on the case. The county spent about $13,000 a day during the 62 days it was under Active Incident Command, a system designed to efficiently fight such occurrences.

Things have slowed, however, and about half a dozen people are handling response efforts. The last confirmed case was added March 18, when the count rose from 72 to 73. Public Health also ended Active Incident Command that day.

Schools were also on the front lines of the outbreak, with more than 800 students without vaccinations or proven immunity to the virus excluded from campus.

Of the 73 cases, 63 were unvaccinated, seven have unverified vaccination status and three people had one MMR dose. One person was hospitalized as part of the outbreak, and the outbreak sparked new state legislation — House Bill 1638 — which would eliminate personal and philosophical exemptions for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for attendance in public and private schools and licensed day care centers. Vancouver lawmakers Rep. Paul Harris, a Republican, and Rep. Monica Stonier, a Democrat, are among the bill’s chief sponsors. The bill has passed out of the House, and is now in the Senate Rules Committee.

There have been measles outbreaks across the U.S. this year, with cases confirmed in 19 states. The national measles case count was 465 as of April 4, already eclipsing last year’s total of 372 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Columbian staff writer