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A measles outbreak near Portland, Ore., has revived a bitter debate over so-called personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccinations. Washington and OR are two of 18 states that allow nonmedical exemptions for vaccines (i.e., for philosophical OR personal reasons).

Washington and OR are among 17 states that allow some type of non-medical exemption for vaccines for "personal, moral OR other beliefs", according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

'If you have a large unvaccinated population and you add measles to the mix, one measles case will infect 90 percent of contacts, and the early symptoms are not distinguishable from other respiratory illnesses - and you're contagious at that point, ' Dr Melnick said.

As the Associated Press reports, at least 35 people are now confirmed to have the disease, with around a dozen other suspected cases yet to be confirmed. Most of the patients are children under 10, and one child has been hospitalized.

The National Vaccine Information Center, which opposes mandatory vaccination laws, said it opposed that bill and the current one. "I'm just so scared", she said.

As long as people in the community aren't vaccinated, doctors say there is potential for an outbreak.

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Smith has an appointment to get her son vaccinated as soon as he's eligible - the day after he turns 1.

The best way to protect your family from measles is to get vaccinated. Parents who don't want to immunize their children can homeschool or enroll their children in independent study at the local public school. After three to five days, a rash usually begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body.

Last year, there were 17 outbreaks and about 350 cases in the United States.

Before mass vaccination, 400 to 500 people in the U.S. died of the measles every year, 50,000 people were hospitalized and 4,000 people developed brain swelling that can cause deafness, Melnick said. Serious complications include brain swelling that can cause blindness or deafness and pneumonia.

Symptoms of measles can often be similar to cold or flu symptoms, including: fever, diarrhea, coughing, runny nose, red and watery eyes, and fatigue. "And a few days after that, you get that famous rash".


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