SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Measles outbreak in Washington pushes total cases to 27 in state

An outbreak of measles in Washington has pushed the number of cases this year to a total larger than in the past five years combined, prompting state health officials to urge the public to vaccinate against the disease.

So far, 27 cases of the measles have been reported in the state-a substantial increase from the five cases reported last year. The most recent cases have been confirmed in King County and Pierce County, according to a press release.

The rising number of measles cases in the state reflects a national trend-the U.S. has experienced the highest number of measles cases since 2000. Nearly all of the cases are attributed to 17 different outbreaks.

A resurgence in the highly contagious disease has been attributed to reduced vaccination rates and the common occurrence of the virus in parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Travelers with the measles bring the disease to the U.S., where it spreads among unvaccinated populations.

Measles spreads when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. Approximately 10 percent of children with the measles also develop ear infections, and up to five percent develop secondary respiratory infections.

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is recommended for children older than 12 months, healthcare workers, college students and adults born after 1956, as well as people who travel internationally. Pregnant women should not receive the vaccine until after giving birth.