A measles patient went to Disneyland last week while contagious, potentially exposing park-goers to the disease. The patient was at the California park on October 16 between 9:15 a.m. and 8:35 p.m. The patient also reported they’d visited a Los Angeles Starbucks on 3006 S. Sepulveda Blvd the same day between 7:50 a.m. and 10 a.m.
For those that came into contact with the virus at either location, they could be at risk of developing measles for up to 21 days after exposure. According to authorities, around 90% of people who have never been immunized experience the symptoms seven to 21 days after exposure.
Health officer Nichole Quick told KTLA, “The measles virus can remain in an environment for several hours, so when we list public exposure sites we take that into consideration.”
Measles is considered on the most contagious viruses around the world. There have been 19 confirmed cases of measles among LA County residents and 11 cases among nonresidents who traveled through the county in 2019.
“Measles is spread by air and by direct contact even before you know have it,” Muntu Davis, LA County Health Officer told KTLA. “The MMR immunization is a very effective measure to protect yourself and to prevent the unintentional spread of this potentially serious infection to others.”
This is not the first time Disneyland has made headlines due to measles outbreaks. In 2015, there were 59 confirmed cases of measles patients. Forty-two of those were linked by the California Department of Public Health linked to people who attended Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure Park.
In mid-August, a New Zealand teen attended the parks with the measles virus. No measles cases have been linked to her case.
If you believe you have been exposed, you should look at your immunization records, reach out to your health care provider, and monitor for symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerts to the following:
1. Measles can be serious.
Some people think of measles as just a little rash and fever that clears up in a few days, but measles can cause serious health complications, especially in children younger than 5 years of age. There is no way to tell in advance the severity of the symptoms your child will experience.
- About 1 in 5 people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized
- 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling, which could lead to brain damage
- 1 to 3 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care
Some of the more common measles symptoms include:
- high fever (may spike to more than 104° F),
- runny nose (coryza),
- red, watery eyes, conjunctivitis, and
- rash (3-5 days after symptoms begin).
2. Measles is very contagious.
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 9 out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected. Your child can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left. An infected person can spread measles to others even before knowing he/she has the disease—from four days before developing the measles rash through four days afterward.
3. Your child can still get measles in United States.
Measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000 thanks to a highly effective vaccination program. Eliminated means that the disease is no longer constantly present in this country. However, measles is still common in many parts of the world. Each year around the world, an estimated 10 million people get measles, and about 110,000 of them die from it.
Even if your family does not travel internationally, you could come into contact with measles anywhere in your community. Every year, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers(mostly Americans and sometimes foreign visitors) who get measles while they are in other countries. Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk.
4. You have the power to protect your child against measles with a safe and effective vaccine.
The best protection against measles is the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. MMR vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles.
Your child needs two doses of MMR vaccine for best protection:
- The first dose at 12 through 15 months of age
- The second dose at 4 through 6 years of age
If your family is traveling overseas, the vaccine recommendations are a little different:
- If your baby is 6 through 11 months old, he or she should receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine before leaving.
- If your child is 12 months of age or older, he or she will need 2 doses of MMR vaccine (separated by at least 28 days) before departure.
Another vaccine, the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine, which protects against 4 diseases, is also available to children 12 months through 12 years of age.
For those families with travel plans on the horizon, the CDC has directives for finding information on destinations where a measles outbreak may be occurring.