The measles outbreak has cost Washington more than $1 MILLION in less than 2 months, health officials say
- The state’s Department of Health has spent around $614,000 on staffing and supplies
- Clark County, the epicenter of the outbreak with 63 cases alone, has spent another $500,000
- A Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist explained to DailyMail.com some of the elements that are so time-consuming and costly in a measles outbreak
The measles outbreak has cost Washington state more than $1 million so far this year, state epidemiologists say.
The state’s Department of Health has spent around $614,000 on staffing and supplies.
Clark County, the epicenter of the outbreak with 63 cases alone, has spent another $500,000.
Officials say that figure is expected to climb faster in the coming weeks as they fight to get more children vaccinated.
There is a spotlight on states with ‘personal exemptions’ permitted for vaccines as a measles outbreak spreads in Washington
‘This is taxpayer money for something that could have been completely, utterly preventable in the first place,’ Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County’s public health director, told the Seattle Times.
More than one in 10 health department workers have been moved onto the measles effort, the Times reports.
In Clark County, almost half the staff (50 out of 110) are doing the same.
Dr Robert Jacobson, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic, told DailyMail.com these logistical issues are part and parcel of a measles outbreak, but he fears the general public may not realize that.
‘The disease is incredibly contagious. If someone has been coughing in a room, the germs from that person linger for hours afterwards, leaving people at risk,’ Dr Jacobson said.
STATES THAT ALLOW PARENTS TO OPT OUT OF VACCINES BASED ON PHILOSOPHICAL BELIEFS
- Louisiana (except no religious exemptions)
- Minnesota (except no religious exemptions)
- Missouri (only for daycare, not public school)
- North Dakota
STATES THAT RECENTLY REVOKED THIS ALLOWANCE:
- West Virginia
‘One of the great expenses from a measles outbreak is trying to track down all the people who may have been in that room.
‘Not only does measles have an impact on those that get sick, but also on the rest of the community who have to do the detective work, which is expensive and time-consuming.
‘That’s another reason why vaccines are so important.’
Dr Jacobson adds that research shows the impact of measles may drag years after the outbreak is contained because the virus suppresses the immune system, increasing the rate of deaths from other causes.
‘We have discovered that measles leaves your body immune-suppressed for a year or two afterwards,’ Dr Jacobson said.
‘When we introduced the measles vaccine to areas of the world where the children had not previously been vaccinated, we not only saw a reduction in deaths from measles, we saw them with other diseases too in a year or two afterwards.
‘There was a drop in mortality and morbidity from things like diarrhea and pneumonia and other things.’
It’s still not clear how measles behaves to suppress the immune system, but Dr Jacobson said he was not surprised by the findings.
‘It’s a violent and severe infection. In our country, a third of those who get measles end up in the hospital unable to stay hydrated, to feed, and they have a higher risk of pneumonia.’
In a bid to control the outbreak, Washington has tabled a bill to ban ‘personal and philosophical’ exemptions from vaccines.
It would be the fifth state in recent years to do so – and would leave just 16 states with personal exemptions on the books.