California Sees Jump in Measles Cases

Measles outbreak in California grows with most infections in Orange County as MMR vaccine recommended

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Measles is no longer a widespread issue in the US, but that doesn't mean infections and outbreaks can't occur, as one US state is currently seeing.

California is experiencing a measles outbreak, with case numbers up dramatically from the numbers seen last year.

Health officials have asked that the public consider if they are vaccinated against the infectious disease.

"Avoid close contact with people when you are sick."

According to a March 28 news release from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), 49 measles cases have been discovered in the state so far during 2014. By comparison, only 4 cases had been discovered for 2013 at this time last year.

CDPH reported that of the identified patients, 11 had traveled beyond North or South America, including some to places where measles is widespread and some to places where outbreaks are currently happening. An additional 30 of the known patients had direct contact with other measles patients.

Measles cases have been reported in eight California Counties, with Orange County (21 patients) and Los Angeles County (10 patients) reporting the most cases.

Orange County Public Health (OCPH) reported that of the 21 Orange County cases, five patients were unvaccinated children under age 18 and five were healthcare workers caring for measles patients. Some of the healthcare workers had been vaccinated.

"The MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine is 99 percent effective, but occurrence of disease in some vaccinated individuals is not surprising, given that measles can spread in an airborne fashion and well over 1,000 patients, their family and friends, and medical staff have been exposed to measles in hospitals, emergency departments and clinics where measles cases have been evaluated," said OCPH in a news release.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first dose of the MMR vaccine is recommended to children soon after they turn 1 year old (at around 12 to 15 months of age), and the second dose should be given before they start kindergarten (at around age 4 to 6 years of age).

The measles virus usually causes symptoms like fever, cough, runny nose and a rash that can spread over the whole body. CDC reported that around one in 10 kids with measles will develop an ear infection, around one in 20 will develop pneumonia, around one in 1,000 will develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and around one or two out of 1,000 will die from the condition.

“This dramatic jump in the number of measles cases is a reminder to get fully vaccinated,” said Ron Chapman, MD, MPH, Director of CDPH, in a news release. “Being fully vaccinated against measles does more than just protect the person who receives the vaccination — it also protects their family and friends, including children who may be too young to be vaccinated.”

Review Date: 
March 31, 2014
Last Updated:
March 31, 2014