More Cases of Measles Confirmed

By EGP Staff Report

Local public health officials have confirmed 59 cases of measles in California residents since the end of December 2014, Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and state health officer, announced Wednesday.

Across the state, the measles patients range in age from 11 months to 70 years old, according to state epidemiologist Gil Chavez. Six of the cases involve children less than a year old who are too young to get shots, he added.

One-quarter of the patients had to be hospitalized, Chavez said.

Cases connected to Disneyland have been confirmed in three Utah residents, two in Washington state, one in Oregon, one in Colorado and one in Mexico, Chavez said.

Chavez said the vast majority of the patients were never immunized with

vaccines that are considered 99 percent effective.

Unless it is an emergency, anyone who might have been exposed and is experiencing symptoms should first contact their local health care provider by phone “to prevent spread in doctor’s offices.” said Chapman, adding that vaccinations for the disease are still the best defense against its spread.

Forty-two of the confirmed cases have been directly linked to an initial exposure in December at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, according to health officials.

Five of the cases involve Disney employees.

CDPH recommends that any patient with a measles compatible illness who has recently visited venues where international travelers congregate, such as theme parks, airports, etc., be considered to have a plausible exposure to measles.

Measles is a highly infectious and airborne disease, said health officials Wednesday. Fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes are usually the first sign, followed by a red rash a few days later. The rash usually first appears on the face before spreading downward to the rest of the body.

The measles-containing vaccine (MMR vaccine) is more than 99 percent effective and two doses are recommended.

State and local health departments are investigating reports of additional possible cases, noting that  “secondary” cases are common with measles because persons can be infectious for a few days prior to developing symptoms and may feel well enough to be out and about potentially exposing others.

Measles has been largely eliminated in the United States since 2000, however, travelers to areas where measles circulates can bring measles back to the U.S. California has many international attractions and visitors come from many parts of the world. It is important for health care providers and the public to be aware that measles transmission can occur in California, and they can prevent transmission by receiving the MMR vaccine.

Patients in the most recent outbreak range in age from seven months to 70 years. Vaccination status is documented for 34 of the 59 cases. Of these 34, 28 were unvaccinated, one had received one dose and five had received two or more doses of MMR vaccine.

People who are unvaccinated should know that there is presently a risk for acquiring measles in California, advise state health officials.

More information about measles can be found on the CDPH website www.cdph.ca.gov.

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January 22, 2015  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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