(RxWiki News) Measles was largely wiped out in the United States years ago, but still poses a threat around the globe. New cases of measles found in foreign travelers in California are causing concern.
According to the Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) department, there has been one confirmed measles infection and another suspected case in Ventura County, which lies to the west of Los Angeles County.
Both patients are European visitors to the area and are not residents.
Due to these two possible measles infections in California, health officials are urging the public to get vaccinated and be on alert.
"Talk to your doctor about vaccinations."
Measles is a highly contagious airborne virus that can spread through breathing, coughing and sneezing. Initial symptoms of a measles infection include coughing, fever, runny nose and a rash that can spread all over the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measles complications are common. Around one in ten children with measles develops an ear infection, around one in 20 develops pneumonia, around one in 1,000 suffers from encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and about one or two out of 1,000 die from the infection.
Though measles was largely eradicated from the US by the year 2000, there are 200,000 deaths from the disease worldwide each year, the CDC reported. International transmission of the virus still poses a threat to public health.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, California saw its highest number measles infections in a decade during 2011. During a nine month period of that year, 28 cases were reported.
In a press statement, the VCPH highlighted the importance of immunization to protect against measles.
"Measles is so contagious that any child who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease," warned Paul Russell, MD, VCPH officer, in the statement.
"The number of children without vaccinations has grown over the last decade, partly because of parent fears of a link between the shots and autism, a theory repeatedly disproved in scientific literature," the LA Times article explained.
The CDC recommends two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine for all children, starting with the first dose at age 12 to 15 months, and finishing with the second dose at age four to six years.
In the face of the Ventura County infections, VCPH urged vigilance from both the general public and from healthcare providers.
"VCPH advises anyone experiencing symptoms of measles to contact their doctor before going to their doctor’s office or clinic," said the department. "Because measles is highly contagious, people with symptoms should be separated from other patients and not sit in crowded waiting rooms."