Just over a week ago, Washington state declared a public-health emergency due to measles outbreaks; since then, three other states — including Hawaii — have confirmed cases.
Health officials in Hawaii, Georgia and Oregon all have confirmed at least one case of measles, a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease. The two confirmed cases here involved two unvaccinated people visiting from Washington state; officials said they were identified early so exposure should have been limited.
As of Friday, at least 43 people in Washington and Oregon have fallen ill in recent weeks, and a dozen-plus more cases are suspected,
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 90 percent of people close to someone who has contracted measles will become infected if they are not immune. It spreads through coughing and sneezing, and can live in airspace for two hours.
Georgia’s health department confirmed that three members of the same family, who were all unvaccinated, had measles; these were not found to be connected with cases in Washington. Oregon reported one case of measles Tuesday in Multnomah County — which was also linked to the outbreak in Washington’s Clark Country.
Measles was eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, according to the CDC. But non-vaccinations in recent years have enabled outbreaks: 2018 was the second-largest outbreak since the illness was eradicated, with 349 cases reported; there were 667 cases in 2014.