Washington is now under a state of emergency as the measles outbreak continues to worsen. Governor Jay Inslee made the announcement Friday, warning residents to get vaccinated if they are not already.
“Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal in small children. Almost everyone who is not immune will get measles if they are exposed to the virus,” Inslee said in his statement. He added that the current outbreak is “an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread.”
As of Sunday, there have been 35 confirmed cases of the highly contagious infection since January 1 along with nine more suspected cases. Of those cases, 24 occurred in children between the ages of one and 10.
Officials have yet to determine the source of the outbreak, which has mainly affected residents of Clark County in southeastern Washington. However, many, including Dr. Alan Melnick, the Clark County public health director, believe it could be tied to low immunization rates.
“All this stuff that we’re going through and the cost, the suffering and potential complications that we’re going through here are completely preventable through an incredibly safe, incredibly effective, incredibly cheap vaccine,” he told ABC News.