A measles outbreak is spreading in a county in Washington known for not choosing to vaccinate its children, and health officials have declared a public health emergency.

While public health officials are monitoring a measles outbreak in Washington State, the World Health Organization has announced that a separate measles outbreak in Madagascar has killed more than 900 people .

Since the beginning of the epidemic in September, the East African country has recorded more than 68,000 cases of highly infectious disease, according to the WHO. According to the organization, 553 people have died and 373 others are believed to have died from measles. Babies are the most at risk.

Could something like this happen in the United States? WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said the high number of deaths and the number of infections were attributed to the low vaccination rate (less than 60%) of measles on the island. In the United States, over 90% of Americans receive the recommended vaccines, according to CDC data. Thus, an epidemic of this size in America would be rare, but health officials fear that the number of measles cases will increase in parallel with the anti-vaccination trend.

People who choose not to vaccinate have become a global threat to health in 2019, reported WHO. The CDC recognized that the number of children who had not been vaccinated before the age of 24 months was gradually increasing. Last week, a group of Arizona lawmakers approved bills likely to extend vaccine exemptions granted to schoolchildren in the state.

In this picture, a young child is presented with a classic measles rash after four days. (Photo11: photo of the CDC document)

More: What you need to know about the measles outbreak that has affected more than 60 people in Washington and is a hot spot anti-vaccination

More: A quarter of kindergarten children in this county of Washington are not immune. There is now a measles crisis

Before Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella Vaccine Available in the United States, Approximately 450-500 People Died from Measles every year. Alan Melnick, public health director for Clark County, Washington, told USA TODAY that if current outbreaks were growing and infecting infants, it would not be unusual to see more deaths in the United States. .

Clark County, a known hot spot against vaccination, has identified 65 confirmed cases and two suspected cases of measles since the beginning of the year. Most cases involve unvaccinated children under 10 years of age. No deaths have been reported.

According to data from the Washington Department of Health, nearly one in four kindergarten students from Clark County during the 2017-2018 school year has not been vaccinated. In three county schools, more than 40% of preschool children have not received any recommended vaccinations before starting school.

There is no specific treatment available for measles, a contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads by air. Infected persons develop a red-speckled rash that begins in the mouth and spreads throughout the body. Symptoms include fevers as high as 104 degrees, a cough, a runny nose and red, watery eyes.

According to the CDC, measles is so contagious that 90% of unvaccinated people who come into contact with an infected person will catch the virus. The two-dose measles vaccine is 97% effective against the virus, according to the CDC.

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Contributing: The Associated Press; Ken Alltucker, United States today. Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

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