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An expert evaluates the outbreak of measles [Video]

Officials in the state of Washington have declared a state of emergency after a recent outbreak of measles, where there were 36 confirmed cases in two counties. A potentially lethal illness is returned mainly to untreated children: Of the reported cases, 32 were in uninfected persons, out of which 25 were under 10 years of age. There were three reported cases in Atlanta, Georgia.

"What many people do not realize is that it is one of the most virulent viruses we've ever known," says Dr. Alok Patel, a pediatrician at Irving NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia Medical Center. "Symptoms can begin like any other very bad cold: cough, nose leakage, does not feel good, red eyes," he says. "And a few days later you get that famous rash."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been identified as measles "eliminated" by the United States in 2000, but supporters of the anti-vaxx movement, partly related to concerns about the association between vaccine and autism, have led many parents to skip the shoot, opening the door to a potential infection. "It's pretty black and white," says Patel. "Vaccination is a method to suppress the spread of measles … Since then, we've been watching millions of children who have completely discovered that there is any connection between autism and [the vaccine]".

If you suspect you have measles or been exposed to a virus, the CDC advises people to immediately call their doctor. You may be told to stay home until you become infectious again. "The virus can actually live about two hours on surfaces and in the air," warns Patel. The best defense against infection is vaccination, which CDC says is "about 97 percent effective".

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