Measles outbreak in Washington has cost state at least $1M

The measles outbreak in Washington that has at least 63 confirmed cases has reportedly cost the state at least $1 million so far.

The Seattle Times reports the state Department of Health (DOH) has spent roughly $614,000 on staff and supplies as of Tuesday and Clark County Public Health has spent about $500,000 addressing the outbreak.

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Clark County is where a vast majority of the measles cases are centered, with 44 of the 63 confirmed cases found in children under the age of 10.

“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 Times.

Out of the roughly 1,900 total staff at the state DOH, 166 of them have been assigned to work on the measles outbreak so far, state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist told the news outlet.

“It’s going to slow down everything else,” he said. “The current public health infrastructure is really threatened by events like this.”

Melnick said out of the 110 Clark County Public Health full-time employees, 40 or 50 of them are currently dedicated to addressing the outbreak.

Washington has also brought in teams from other states that adds to the total cost.

The measles outbreak in the state spread earlier in the year in a zone with high vaccine exemption rates for school children.

Fifty-five of the 63 confirmed cases in Clark County have come from patients who were not vaccinated.

The country’s nonmedical exemption rate for kindergarten enrollment in the 2017-18 scholastic’s year was 2 percent, according to the CDC. The Seattle Times reports Washington’s exemption rate for philosophical, personal or religious was 4 percent, with Clark County’s exemption rate at 6.7 percent.