In the Pacific Northwest 54 are confirmed infected with the once eradicated measles, as an outbreak also emerges in Texas.
A large measles outbreak in Washington state shows no sign of abating.
According to the State Department of Health, there are now at least 54 cases of the illness, all but one of which were located in Clark County, Washington, just across the river from Portland, Oregon. Directly to the south, the Oregon Health Authority has reported at least four cases. Within Clark County, the vast majority of diagnoses are of children 10 years old or younger.
Measles — an airborne virus that can lead to lung infections, brain damage, and death in the worst cases — was responsible for thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year prior to the discovery of a vaccine in 1963. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but in the last year, there has been a worldwide resurgence of the virus, with cases increasing 30 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the main drivers of this trend is a growing reluctance to vaccinate children, so much so that the WHO listed the anti-vaccination movement as one of its top ten threats to global health in 2019.
"The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines…threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases," the WHO report reads. "The reasons why people choose not to vaccinate are complex; a vaccines advisory group to WHO identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence are the key reasons for the underlying hesitancy."