I saw this one LA Times "LA Now" section and thought that I would pass it one to our SoCal readers. Stay Safe Disneylanders!
A measles outbreak centered in California has sickened 71 people in North America and is still spreading. It is the state’s worst measles outbreak in 15 years, officials say.
How did the outbreak start?
It’s likely that a person with measles visited Disneyland in Anaheim between Dec. 17 and 20, exposing others to the virus, health officials have said. Dozens of cases have been traced to people who were at the park then. READ MORE
How many people have gotten sick?
There have been 62 measles cases reported in California and nine outside the state: three in Utah, two in Washington state, one in Arizona, one in Colorado, one in Oregon and one in Mexico.
The California patients range in age from 7 months to 70 years. Five are Disneyland employees.
Nine counties in California have confirmed measles cases: Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Ventura. READ MORE
Had they been vaccinated?
Many had not. Vaccination status is known for only 34 of the California patients. Of those, 28 were not vaccinated, one had received partial vaccination and five were fully vaccinated.
Federal recommendations call for the first dose of measles vaccination, known as MMR, to be given at 12 to 15 months of age, though doctors might vaccinate babies as young as 6 months under certain circumstances, such as if they are traveling internationally. A second vaccination is given between the ages of 4 and 6.
How can vaccinated people catch measles?
The vaccine is very effective, but it doesn’t work 100% of the time. “When you have a scenario where hundreds of hundreds of people get exposed, then even if the vaccine is 99% good after two doses, you're going to have a handful of people who are going to get sick,” Orange County Public Health Officer Eric Handler said.
Also, “in some select circumstances,” Handler said, “people who've been immune before, their immunity can wane a little bit, so you still get some symptoms. We know that there's some protection there because they don't tend to get real sick. And they don't tend to be really infectious. So the vaccine is still doing them good, but it's not completely preventing disease." READ MORE
Should I get vaccinated again?
Maybe. Before 1989, federal guidelines recommended only one dose of the measles vaccine, so people vaccinated before the guidelines changed generally do not have the coverage that’s now advised.
"Anybody who doesn't know they've had two doses should get a dose of vaccine," said Dr. James Cherry, primary editor of the Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
Getting a third dose is safe, Cherry said. READ MORE
How did location contribute to this outbreak?
Places such as Disneyland attract visitors from all over the world, including areas of Europe and Asia where measles is still a large problem. Experts have called the theme park a perfect incubator. From there, the disease has continued to spread.
Further, Orange County is home to several upscale communities where a higher than average number of parents have opted to not fully vaccinate their children because of their personal beliefs. Experts say it's a problem when 8% of a population or more decline vaccines that keep diseases such as measles from spreading. READ MORE
How does measles spread, and what are the symptoms?
Measles spreads through the droplets from a sneeze or cough. It is so infectious, a single sick person who walks into a community of completely nonimmunized people infects 12 to 18 of them.
Controlling measles is difficult because patients are infectious as soon as coughing and sneezing begins but before the telltale rash appears — first on the head, then spreading to the rest of the body. Patients can be contagious four days before the rash appears and four days after. Other symptoms include fever, redness of eyes and a runny nose.
The incubation period can take seven to 21 days from exposure to the virus to onset of fever. READ MORE
What should I do if I think I have measles?
Make a phone call to your healthcare provider, health officials urge. That way, the doctor's office can make special arrangements to prevent other people in the waiting room from becoming infected.
How bad have previous outbreaks gotten?
The measles vaccine has been around since 1963 in the United States, but there were still major outbreaks of the disease nationwide in 1976-77 and 1989-91.
The 1989-91 outbreak infected more than 55,000 people nationwide, causing 11,000 hospitalizations and about 120 deaths, including about 75 in California. A majority of those who died in California were babies and children under the age of 5. The epidemic was caused primarily by the failure to vaccinate preschool children.
In the last two decades, the United States has had at least a few dozen measles cases per year.
Are there efforts to control the current outbreak?
Orange County health authorities have said that unvaccinated children will be excluded from school or day care for 21 days if they come in contact with a contagious measles patient. They recently ordered about two dozen Huntington Beach High School students without proof of immunization to stay away from campus. READ MORE
At Disneyland, any employees who may have been in contact with the five measles-stricken employees and have not been vaccinated or cannot confirm their immunity status have been asked to go on paid leave, theme park officials said.READ MORE
Strict measures have also been taken in San Diego County, where last week an urgent-care clinic in the suburb of La Mesa was shut down after five people arrived with the telltale rash caused by measles. Anyone with no proof of vaccination who came in contact with the people was put under a mandatory quarantine for 21 days. READ MORE
Is it safe to go to Disneyland right now?
Absolutely yes, if you are vaccinated for measles, said Dr. Gil Chavez, the state epidemiologist.
Chavez did caution that people who are too young to be immunized should avoid places where large crowds with international travelers are concentrated, such as theme parks and airports.
Times staff writers Emily Foxhall, Matt Hamilton and Nicole Knight Shine contributed to this report.
9:07 a.m., Jan. 23: This story has been updated to clarify that doctors might vaccinate babies as young as 6 months old under certain circumstances.
4 p.m. Jan. 22: This story has been updated to add the question "Should I get vaccinated again?" and its answer.
11:41 a.m. Jan. 22: This story has been updated to add a measles case reported in Arizona.
The first version of this story was published at 6:15 p.m. Jan. 21.