Recent confirmed and suspected cases of measles have been traced back to December visits to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, reported the California Department of Public Health.
There are seven confirmed cases of measles in patients from five different locations within California, reported Dr. Ron Chapman, CDPH director and state health officer. Two Utah resident cases have also been confirmed and three additional California residents are suspected to have measles and are under investigation. All confirmed and suspect cases reported visiting Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park sometime between Dec. 15-20.
The health department believes, based on information from current cases, it is likely that a person infectious with measles was at one of the theme parks on those dates. People can be infectious with measles for nine days. Measles typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes and within a few days a red rash appears, usually first on the face and then spreads downward to the rest of the body. Measles is a highly infectious, airborne disease.
“If you have symptoms, and believe you may have been exposed, please contact your health care provider,” said Chapman. “The best way to prevent measles and its spread is to get vaccinated.”
The California confirmed cases reside in Alameda, Orange, Pasadena, Riverside and San Diego counties and range in age from 8 months to 21 years. According to the health department, six cases were unvaccinated for measles, with two children too young to be vaccinated, and one had received two doses of MMR vaccine.
Measles has been eliminated in the United States since 2000. However, large measles outbreaks have occurred in Western Europe, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines in recent years. Travelers to areas where measles is endemic can bring measles back to the U.S., resulting in limited domestic transmission of measles. Disney and other theme parks in California are international attractions and visitors come from many parts of the world, including those where measles is endemic.
Two doses of measles-containing vaccine (MMR vaccine) are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles. Measles vaccines have been available in the United States since 1963, and two doses have been recommended since 1989. Those unsure of their vaccination status, are urged to check with their doctor to have a test to check for measles immunity or to receive vaccination.
Several large contact measles investigations are ongoing in the state. Health care providers treating patients with fever and a rash should consider measles, and ask patients about travel to international destinations and domestic venues that are popular with international travelers.